Wednesday was Crossover Day, the day that legislation has to have passed one chamber to stay alive.
Here’s what we are watching:
The West Virginia Future Fund bill passed the Senate unanimously last week and is awaiting action by the House of Delegates. Want to know more about what this bill would do for West Virginia? Read Ted’s Future Fund 101 blog post for all the answers.
Legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage passed the House and is under consideration by the Senate. The proposed increase to $8.75 an hour would not only be the first increase to the state’s minimum wage since 2009 but would also largely be paid by big employers, not small businesses. Read more about which employers are the ones paying low wages in Sean’s blog post.
Two other bills that passed the House and are now in the Senate would create a voluntary Work Sharing program and a Voluntary Employment Retirement Accounts (VERA).
The likelihood of an increase to the tobacco tax seems slim again this year. This long-overdue measure would not just raise much-needed revenue and bring the state’s tobacco tax closer to the national average, it would also discourage young people to start smoking and decrease the smoking rate overall. Read more about this win-win in Brandon’s blog post.
After the session wraps next Saturday, legislators turn their attention to the FY 2015 proposed budget. Again this year, Governor Tomblin has balanced his budget by cutting important programs like higher education and early childhood development. This week the WVCBP released its annual Budget Brief which contains many alternate ways to close this year’s budget gap like raising the tobacco tax, expanding the sales taxes to other goods and services (you don’t pay tax when you get your hair cut but you do if you get your lawn cut), eliminating the personal income tax exemption for high wager earners (like the IRS does) and more.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, about 100,000 people who didn’t have it before now have health care. Some West Virginia counties are doing better than others. Find out more about how the enrollment process is going across the state in Brandon’s blog post.
We all have a new awareness and appreciation of our water after last month’s chemical spill. West Virginia is lucky to be the birthplace of many rivers, and a movement to make them the state’s first national monument is underway. Check out this video to learn more about the environmental and economic opportunities of this idea.
Here’s an interesting blog post that cites the WVCBP’s analysis of recent and not-so-recent tax cuts. In FY 2015 alone, the state is offering up tax cuts, mostly to businesses and corporations, that would be more than enough to provide free in-state tuition at all the state’s two- and four-year institutions.
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