Reports & Briefs

September 12, 2023 by Sara Whitaker
The High Costs of Cheap Food: Eating in West Virginia Prisons

Since 2015, West Virginia prisons have sent more than $57.1 million out of state to pay for food served in its prisons. Privatizing prison food has resulted in poorer food quality and worse health outcomes. A 2022 class-action lawsuit filed against the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement, including the serving of…

Read More
August 31, 2023 by Sara Whitaker
The Costs of Police Overtime in Charleston

In March 2023, the Charleston City Council approved a $111.6 million budget for the 2024 fiscal year.[1] Once again, the city dedicated one-fifth of its budget ($23.0 million) to uniformed Charleston Police officers for wages, benefits, pensions, insurance, and equipment.[2] Of the $12.3 million budgeted for wages, $2.6 million was allocated for overtime pay.[3] Read…

Read More
April 18, 2023 by Sean O'Leary
How Tax Cuts for the Rich Trumped Public Investments: The West Virginia Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

Overview During the 2023 West Virginia legislative session, lawmakers had the opportunity to use available revenues to address longstanding needs like ensuring PEIA and Medicaid solvency, filling crisis-level staffing vacancies across state agencies, or increasing investments in neglected areas like higher education and child care. But instead, the FY 2024 budget debate was dominated by…

Read More
December 14, 2022 by Sean O'Leary
State of Working West Virginia 2022: A Lost Decade and a Path Forward

Introduction Heading into the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia was already facing an economic crisis. The natural gas boom had fizzled, and in the months leading up to the pandemic, the Mountain State was steadily losing jobs and experiencing weak income and GDP growth. In 2019, West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, the fourth highest…

Read More
November 15, 2022 by Sara Whitaker
 “Closest to the Problem”: A Vision for Reentry from the People Who Live It 

Overview “I don’t know how much time each of you has served, but if you served one day in a correctional facility, you have something to say, and somebody ought to hear it.” Darrin Lester addressed a group of formerly incarcerated people in Logan County, West Virginia this past summer, part of a session called “Be…

Read More
August 24, 2022 by Sara Whitaker
Counsel at First Appearance Can Protect Liberty and Reduce Jail Costs

Introduction Read the full policy brief. To anyone raised on American television, it may come as a surprise that a person could appear at a court hearing without a lawyer. But every day in West Virginia, people who are arrested face their first hearings alone. This has significant consequences. At the first appearance hearing the…

Read More
August 4, 2022 by Sean O'Leary
Amendment Two: A Power Grab that Puts Local Public Services at Risk

Overview This fall, West Virginians will vote on amending the state’s constitution to take property taxing authority away from local communities and give increased power to the state legislature, which is expected to pursue a major tax cut for mostly out-of-state businesses if the amendment passes. Read the full issue brief. Amendment Two, or the…

Read More
May 25, 2022 by Rhonda Rogombe
Simplifying Medicaid Processes Can Increase Efficiency and Improve the User Experience

Introduction Read the full issue brief. Medicaid is a critical economic and health program in West Virginia, serving over 616,000 people, including children, seniors, low-income adults, pregnant and postpartum women, persons with disabilities, and more. In addition to being the main source of health access for over one-third of the state’s population, Medicaid covers the…

Read More
February 23, 2022 by Sean O'Leary
Flat Budgets, Flat Expectations: The West Virginia Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Proposal

Overview Read the full brief. For the second year in a row, Governor Jim Justice has proposed a “flat” budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, with only minor changes from the FY 2022 budget. While the state is currently enjoying large budget surpluses, those surpluses are the result of billions in federal aid, artificially low…

Read More