Welcome to this week’s Budget Beat, a recap of blog posts, publications, reports and other information from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Every day in West Virginia, thousands of low-income families rely on public child care assistance. Today the WVCBP released a report Reducing Child Care Assistance – The Impact on West Virginia’s Low-Income Families. “Child care assistance is crucial to keeping low-income parents in the workforce and their children safe,” said Ted Boettner, author of the report and WVCBP Executive Director. “Instead of cutting child care assistance, we should follow the lead of other states that have invested additional resources into the program.” Read the report.
With the 2012 election firmly behind us, now is the time to fully implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that no one in West Virginia is without health care coverage. In 2011, approximately 272,000 West Virginians between the ages of 18 and 64 lacked health coverage. About half of the state’s uninsured could gain health care coverage if the Mountain State expands Medicaid to cover low-income adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This would be a great investment for the state, with the federal government picking up nearly 96 percent of the tab in the first six years (2014-2019). Read blog post.
While policymakers have been somewhat slow to confront the historical and future decline of coal in the state, coal mining executives seem to understand quite well the economic realities facing their industry. As Ken Ward reported in the Charleston Gazette last Friday, the CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, Kevin Crutchfield, noted he “expects the region’s production of steam coal for electrical power plants to drop from previous levels of 120 million tons a year to a range of 50 to 70 million tons annually.” Read blog post.
Federal funds benefit many West Virginians. This week the State Journal mentioned how the WVCBP found that more than 20 percent of state residents depend on federal benefits for personal income.
Both Ted Boettner and Sean O’Leary were quoted in an editorial in this week’s Charleston Gazette on how, even if there were no new regulations, coal production is going to decline for other reasons including competition from natural gas.
The WVCBP was also cited in a pre-election Charleston Gazette article on the decline of coal.
Former WVCBP Economist Jill Kriesky is published in a new book “Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia” which is edited by Stephen L. Fisher and Barbara Ellen Smith. Jill and co-author Daniel Swan contributed an essay called “Faith-Based Coalitions and Organized Labor: New Forms of Collaboration in the Twenty-First Century?” The book is available from the University of Illinois Press.
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