This Monday, December 3, Senator Joe Manchin will meet with religious leaders and families to discuss what he will do to put West Virginia’s people above partisan politics in the current fiscal cliff debate. A reception starts at 9:30AM at John XXIII on Hodges Road in Charleston. The event is free and open to the public. “Lost in the national debate are the voices of hard-working Americans who want nothing more than to feed their kids, keep their jobs, and get a fair shot,” said Stephen N. Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, lead sponsor for the event.
While property taxes make up 45 percent of the total revenue for local city and county governments, providing important funding for libraries, public health, police and fire protection, housing and other public services, each year there is talk about their elimination or reduction. Read blog post.
Different agencies have different projections on the future production of coal and natural gas. These varying estimates mean different projections on the levels of severance taxes the state can expect. None of this conflicting data, however, should deter efforts to establish a Future Fund. Read blog post.
Raising the retirement age for Social Security is seen as a possible deficit-reducing measure but how would this change impact West Virginia? Because of the state’s low life expectancy and income, raising the retirement age of Social Security means that the state – and especially the high number workers in low-wage jobs – will benefit far less from Social Security than other states and those with higher incomes. Read blog post.
Is there a lack of skilled workers in West Virginia? As of June 2012, there were nearly four jobless West Virginians for every new job opening and the unemployed rate for those with an associate or bachelor’s degree remains elevated. While some manufacturing firms in the state may feel squeezed by global competition to offer lower wages, until they start paying higher wages and offering more job security it is unlikely that they will ever find the skilled workers they need. Read blog post.
During legislative interims this week, there was a discussion of work sharing, an idea that the WVCBP has researched and one that works in 24 other states and the District of Columbia. This alternative to lay-offs allows workers to stay on the job during economic downturns and helps employers retain a trained workforce. In Sunday’s Gazette-Mail, WVCBP board member Rick Wilson did a great job of explaining how work sharing could help West Virginia’s workers and industry. And, in a West Virginia Public News Service article, Policy Analyst Sean O’Leary explained, “They’ve got ten workers, they can lay off two. Or they can have all their employees work four days a week, and they’d collect unemployment benefits on the fifth day.”
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