Strengthening West Virginia Families
West Virginia can create a more prosperous state if the strength of working families and the policies that support them become a priority. This is according to a West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy report that details seven policies to reverse the top-down approach that has left the average West Virginian behind.
Since 2006, West Virginia has drastically cut corporate taxes while pursuing a path of budget austerity that has resulted in less investment in our communities and less opportunity. The following seven policies allow working West Virginians to invest in their health and spend more money in our local communities, stimulating the economy, and spurring greater business and job growth:
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and doing away with the two-tiered system of the tipped minimum wage would lift pay for over a third of West Virginia’s workers. This would allow working people to better support their families and would stimulate local economies while improving long-term outcomes.
- Establishing a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)would lift low-income families out of poverty while boosting log-term earnings and workforce participation, as well as improving health and educational outcomes.
- Raising the salary threshold that workers are eligible for overtime pay would benefit 66,000 West Virginia workers. This rule change would put more money in the pockets of working people, either through overtime pay or increased salaries to meet the new threshold.
- Receiving a work schedule with little advance notice, fluctuating shift times and working inconsistent hours week-to-week can harm working people’s ability to meet responsibilities on and off the job. By setting fair workweek standards, over 430,000 working West Virginians will be better able to care for and support our families and build strong communities.
- Expanding access to affordable quality child carewould boost labor force participation, improve long-term child outcomes, help businesses thrive and improve quality of life for working families. For far too many parents, the high cost od child care is a financial barrier to joining the workforce – especially those families between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
- Having access to earned paid sick days is crucial to reducing the spread of illness, keeping communities healthy, avoiding productivity loss, reducing workplace turnover and supporting parents and caregivers so they can balance work and family. Altogether, nearly half (46 percent) of private sector workers in West Virginia lack this basic protection.
- As working parents split more of the child care and breadwinning responsibilities, workers in West Virginia should have the ability to take paid leave to address personal and caregiving needs. Access to paid family and medical leave improves outcomes for children and benefits businesses by creating healthier and more productive employees.
Working families have always been the backbone of West Virginia’s economy, and by using these policies to help them increase their earning potential as well as meet responsibilities outside of work, we build a stronger, more prosperous state.