Senate Votes to Raise the Tobacco Tax/Dangerous Resolutions on the Move
Perils of Calling a Constitutional Convention
This week the Senate passed SCR 10 which would add West Virginia to the states supporting the call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. The House is considering a variety of bills and resolutions of its own including HB 4449, HB 2424 and HCR 36.
The House Judiciary Committee may take up HCR 36 any day now. This dangerous resolution calls for a constitutional convention of states to propose a balance budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution.
West Virginia is one of the latest states in a targeted national campaign. Out-of-state organizations are urging states to pass boiler-plate resolutions as they work to collect the required 34 states to call for a convention.
Depending on how various state legislatures wrap up their deliberations (Nebraska just tabled its version), we could see the number reach the 30s this year. Keep in mind that there are no established ground rules for how this would transpire and it could open up the Constitution to radical and harmful changes.
A BBA is particularly harmful as it does not allow saved-up money to be spent. It would define "balanced" as spending no more in any year than the revenues collected that same year. Imagine if if a family had to meet that standard. It would prohibit them from borrowing for college, health emergencies or to buy a home. For example, a frugal family that saved money into a college savings accounts (529) would not be able to use these savings under the BBA proposal because it would only be able to use the funds saved in that year.
Balancing the West Virginia Budget
What have legislators done so far this session to close West Virginia's budget gap? Find out the latest in Sean's weekly recap including the much-discussed increase in the state's tobacco tax passed by the Senate this week. The fate of that bill now lies in the hands of the House Finance Committee.
Here's an editorial in this week's Charleston Gazette-Mail on the $466 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year. It cites data from our annual budget analysis released last week. Here's a piece in the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram on legislators' reactions to our report.
Public Service Commission Approves Water Rate Hike
This week the West Virginia Public Service Commission approved a 15.1% rate hike for West Virginia American Water Company, giving West Virginia the 4th highest water rate in the nation.
Equal Pay for Women a Solution to Poverty
If women received the same pay as men, their poverty rate would be cut in half while adding $482 billion to the U.S. economy.
Status of Women in the South, released this week by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, showed some troubling trends for southern women including virtually nonexistent access to paid sick leave and limited participation in the political process.
If West Virginia continues at the current rate of progress since 1975 in electing women to our state legislature, we will have to wait over 200 years to reach parity between the genders. This dubious distinction ranked the state dead last along with South Carolina.