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Doubling the Minimum Wage and Other Ways to Help the Economy

Budget Beat for June 21, 2013

Evidence Counts – the WVCBP blog

On July 1, interest rates on Stafford student loans are set to double, making higher education even less affordable for West Virginia students and their families. The average college debt for West Virginia students has climbed by $10,000 since 2004 to over $25,000, above the national average. Read more in this week’s blog post by Chris Nyden.

Another hurdle facing college graduates is the wages they can expect upon graduation which have fallen for the past five years. This is part of an overall less-than-favorable jobs outlook which has been slow to recover from the Recession. Even with a college degree, jobs are hard to find, and in West Virginia, there are 3.86 people looking for work for every job opening. Read more in Sean’s blog post.

Wondering exactly who will gain access to health care once West Virginia expand its Medicaid program? In his blog post this week, Brandon explains. And the benefits go far beyond more people having coverage – West Virginia will have a healthier, more productive workforce which means a stronger economy.

WVCBP in the News

State budget cuts are forcing WVU and Marshall University, as well as other institutions of higher learning, to cut back on services and raise tuition. At MU, this has caused a closer look into the university’s budget causing some to question the level of transparency at the school. Ted was quoted in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch this week supporting any efforts to bring more accountability and accessibility to such information and used Ohio University’s more centralized approach as an example of good practices.

The Lexington Herald-Leader ran a comprehensive story on the future of Eastern Kentucky coal. It cited a report from Downstream Strategies and quoted Fiscal Policy Analyst Sean O’Leary on projections of an expected deep decline in coal production for the area, with or without federal regulations.

No Consensus on Effects of Tax Breaks

Even though they are credited with creating jobs and promoting economic growth, as it turns out there is little academic research to prove that tax breaks are an economic shot-in-the-arm. This flies in the face of the position of the Tax Foundation which seems to believe that every tax break is good for a state’s economy. For much more on the topic, check out this brief from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage

We mentioned Nick Hanauer in last week’s Budget Beat. Here is more insightful commentary from him on how a sharp increase in the minimum wage would be good for business, bring more people back to the middle class and stimulate demand for products created by those “one-percenters.” Bottom line: workers are also customers.

March for Jobs and Freedom Remains Unfinished on Its 50th Anniversary

The protesters in Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington had seven demands, four of which have not been met fifty years later: ending ghettos, ending segregation in school, creating a living wage and ensuring jobs for all. Read more in this eye-opening infographic by the Economic Policy Institute.

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