As West Virginia legislators reconvene soon to take up education reform, they should focus on ways to invest more in our schools and target more funding to schools in higher poverty districts instead of devising ways to redistribute public school money to private corporations.
In 2017, West Virginia spent less per pupil on public education than the national average and most of our surrounding states. Research shows that investing in our schools can yield significant benefits for our state and that adopting policies to lower child poverty is the best way to boost incomes and produce better economic and social outcomes.
West Virginia workers who make a minimum tipped wage earn just $2.62 an hour from their employers. The vast majority (77%) of them are women, with over 20% of those women living in poverty. The numbers are worse for women of color with over 24% living in poverty. While West Virginia’s tipped wage is low, the federal minimum tipped wage has not been raised in almost three decades and stands at $2.13.
Despite Governor Justice’s conclusion that West Virginia has the “best job rate in 11 years” and “record-setting job growth,” an analysis of the data shows that West Virginia’s economy is performing worse than the rest of the country since he took office.
Pipeline construction, along with its temporary employment boost, and a shrinking population, skew the numbers, allowing the governor to reach an inaccurate conclusion.
Read more in Ted’s blog post.
Our Strength in Stability partners are gathering stories from West Virginians who have seen their lives changed due to programs like Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps).
This story comes from Chris Nyden, who discusses his experiences with Medicaid. In February, Chris wrote this op-ed for the Charleston Gazette describing the burden of proposed work reporting requirements and how they would have changed his life, restricting access to vital health care at an important time. Listen to an interview with Chris here.
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Medicaid buy-in allows consumers to pay Medicaid premiums and other cost-sharing measures such as co-pays and deductibles based on their income. Currently, 25 states, including West Virginia, already have some sort of cost-sharing imposed on Medicaid recipients. Some of these are based on income and some are standard for all recipients. Most cost the insured very little for routine care or prescription drugs.
Offering a Medicaid buy-in for those who do not qualify for traditional Medicaid is an attempt to leverage things such as Medicaid’s provider network and infrastructure to offer a more affordable option for health coverage.
A Medicaid buy-in option could help close to 100,000 West Virginians obtain affordable, comprehensive health insurance. West Virginia should commission its own study to see if this is a viable option to address the state’s declining enrollment and increased health-insurance costs.
Read more in Jessie’s blog post.
Jeff Allen is a United Methodist pastor currently appointed to the West Virginia Council of Churches as the Executive Director. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies from West Virginia University and a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University.
He previously served as Project Director for the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition between 2008 and 2012, as the Community and Families Development Director at Community Development Outreach Ministries (CDOM) for thirteen years, and also served the Keystone and Northfork United Methodist Churches in McDowell County, West Virginia, the College Hill United Methodist Church in Waco, Kentucky, and as interim pastor at Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church in Charleston, West Virginia.
Open House for Paid Family and Medical Leave
June 9, 3:00-5:30PM, Morgantown
A short screening of Zero Weeks and a discussion about paid family and medical leave. More information here.
Presentation on New Expungement Law
June 12, 10:00 – 11:30 AM, Goodwill Prosperity Center, Charleston.
Legal Aid will present on the new expungement law at the Kanawha Re-Entry Council Meeting. More information here.
Healing Justice Film Screening and Discussion
June 13, 1:00-5:00PM, Raleigh Playhouse in Beckley. RSVP here.
Juneteenth Celebration – Charleston
June 15. The Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs is hosting Annual Juneteenth Celebration on the North Side of the WV State Capitol Complex.
Juneteenth Celebration – Fairmont
June 22, 10:00 AM, Windmill Park. More information here.
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