West Virginia has been under a one party rule for over 80 years. Where has this consistency in policy taken West Virginia? As a state, we have moved to the bottom of the charts if we are measuring something good, and to the top of the charts if we are measuring something bad. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Here in West Virginia we are stuck in this cycle of insanity. We are doing the same things we have always done, but expecting different results. I want to help change this and will work to move the state forward. There are some great things I love about West Virginia; there are also many areas that need drastic reform.
West Virginia’s current education spending is very strong. Depending on the calculations used, as a state we spend close to $10,000 per student, per year. This level of spending lands West Virginia in the top 30% of per student spending. While the funding levels are great, they in no way correlate with academic excellence and standardized test scores. In its 18th Edition of the Report Card on American Education, the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked West Virginia 51st in overall education quality.
We need to find more innovative ways to educate the students of West Virginia. Teaching standards need to be more consistent, groups of concerned parents need to be able to create charter schools if an interest exists, schools need to be able to replace non preforming teachers, students need to be held to a higher standard and introduced to the concept pushing themselves beyond that which is easy.. Additional, West Virginia students who choose a vocational track should be exposed to programs that help move them towards job placement upon graduation.
Travel and Tourism
Within the borders of the West Virginia 10th Senatorial District, are many of the states gems. The New River Gorge and the related outdoor companies, The Boy Scout’s Summit Bechtel Reserve, The West Virginia State Fair and The Greenbrier are amongst those gems that create jobs and bring revenue to the state.
As a state, we need to figure out how to better support these West Virginia icons and drive more visitors to these facilities. Visitors to the state increase tax revenue, increase spending in the surrounding communities, increase job creation and increase the public perception of the state.
I am a small business man, I am a West Virginia job creator. There are 5 key areas that need to be addressed if West Virginia is going to accelerate job creation.
Judicial and Legal Reform: West Virginia courts have long interpreted our laws in an overly personal injury lawyer friendly manner. Large settlements and arbitrary decisions scare those job creators we are trying to attract. Due to this personal injury lawsuit industry bias, the job creators are required to carry insurance not required in other states. Employers must protect themselves from broad form claims exclusive to West Virginia such as a Mandolidis claim. If we are going to attract job creation magnets, we need to provide a state that is no more difficult than others in which to transact business.Additional necessary legal reforms would include: limiting non-economic damages, limiting punitive damages, limiting joint and several liability and the implementation of non-partisan judge elections.
General Tax Reform: in 2012, West Virginia was one of two states with a declining population. In order to help stop this decline, our tax structure must be competitive with surrounding states. The tiered removal of sales tax on food and ingredients must continue. Through fiscal discipline and our control of government spending, West Virginia citizens should realize a reduction in sales tax and governmental fees.
Formation of an intermediate appellate court: Currently in West Virginia, The State Supreme Court is the only court of appeals. The current system does not guarantee an appeal from a circuit court ruling. In fact, the American Tort Reform Association described West Virginia as America’s Number 2 “Judicial Hell Hole” due to its failure to ensure a right of appeal.
Establishing an intermediate appellate court will ease the burden on the very busy State Supreme Court of Appeals, guarantee a right of first appeal from a circuit court’s decision and allow the Supreme Court additional time to consider major issues.
Tax Reform and Continued Reduction of the Corporate Net Income Tax: West Virginia must create a corporate tax system that is both sustainable and competitive with surrounding states. This would include eliminating the property tax on manufacturing equipment and inventory.While the current reduction in Business Franchise Tax is a move in the right direction, West Virginia needs to move aggressively ahead in in lightening the tax burden to more effectively recruit job creation and capital investment.
The current reduction of the Corporate Net Income Tax from a high rate of 8.75% to 6.5% is also a strong move in the right direction. This trend must continue if we are to see accelerated job creation and economic growth.
Infrastructure Development: As economic growth accelerates, the need for enhanced infrastructure is amplified. West Virginia must continue to enhance all modes of transportation in order to more effectively move products to larger markets. These enhancements should include maintenance and construction of roadways, an aggressive expansion of water and sewage facilities and broadband infrastructure to continue meeting anticipated demand.