After a roller coaster week, the Senate’s omnibus reform bill, SB 451, is currently on second reading before the full Senate with likely passage next week. The bill links teacher raises, promised by Governor Jim Justice, to a whole host of other issues, including controversial Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
Simply put, this voucher-like program would use taxpayer money to fund educational services including private school tuition, textbooks and curriculum materials, private tutoring and contributions to a college savings plan.
There are many questions surrounding the effectiveness of ESAs. While they are increasing in popularity among lawmakers across the country, research shows academic achievement does not improve for the students who use them. And, in West Virginia, access could be a huge obstacle since 14 counties in the state have only one private school and 19 have no private schools at all.
For more information, read our report released this week: Public Money for Private Schools: Education Savings Accounts Can Grow Costly While Doing Little to Improve Education.
This week at the Legislature saw the launch of the ‘Hunger Caucus,’ a bi-partisan group of lawmakers committed to finding policy solutions to address food insecurity in West Virginia. Lawmakers joined members of the Food for All Coalition to learn more about what hunger looks like in their communities. Policy solutions discussed included lifting the lifetime ban on SNAP benefits for persons with drug felonies (HB 2459 & SB 394), a Summer Feeding for All Initiative (HB 2794) and policies leveraging West Virginia’s farmers to improve access to healthy foods (SB 383 and SB 19). Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the Hunger Caucus.
Black West Virginians are facing a public and mental health crisis. Recent reports from the Center for Disease Control reveal that West Virginia has five cities (Logan, Hinton, West Side of Charleston, West Huntington, and Salem) that rank in the top 50 cities in America with the lowest life expectancy. These communities have a lifespan of 14-22 years less than the national average. To alleviate health disparities in West Virginia, please call Delegate Joe Eillington and Delegate Jordan Hill (304-340-3269) and Delegate ask your delegates to put HB 2153 (Establishment of the Minority Health Advisory Task Force Team) on the House Health and Human Resources Committee agenda!
Again this year, legislators are considering eliminating or greatly reducing taxes on business personal property. This would likely mean shifting the $388 million responsibility onto regular taxpayers and more reductions in vital services such as schools.
Most states have business personal property taxes in one form or another. The revenues they raise in West Virginia funds school systems with natural gas and coal-producing counties seeing the most benefit. A large portion of this tax is exported, meaning out-of-state corporations foot the bill to help pay for important programs in the communities where they do business.
If the measure passes the legislature, citizens will have the final say in 2020 by voting on a constitutional amendment. Read more in Taking Inventory: The Impact of Exempting Business Personal Property Taxes in West Virginia on how these proposals would affect our state’s budget.
The WVCBP is looking for summer interns to work in our Charleston office. Our internship program prepares students for potential employment in the non-profit policy world by training them to conduct rigorous data and policy analysis while developing effective communications strategies.
The WVCBP offers summer internships paid at $15.00 per hour. A typical internship runs from mid-May to early August. Internships are full time and include paid vacation and sick days. Interns work closely with WVCBP staff focusing on one of the following tracks:
WVCBP interns are current students at a higher-education institution, or recent graduates, with preference given to graduate students.
Our application process for summer interns begins in February. To apply, please submit the following to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Tune in on Facebook for a weekly recap of legislative highlights. Wonk’s World is hosted by Rick Wilson and Lida Shepherd with the American Friends Service Committee.
Join organizations and individuals committed to moving West Virginia forward at the 2019 All Kinds Are Welcome Here Civil Liberties Lobby Day!
Advocacy training starts at 8:30 in the House Gov Org room followed by a press conference at 9:30am outside of the Senate Chamber. Next is constituent meetings from 10-11 before watching the floor session from the House and Senate Galleries. Come stand with us in solidarity to show the West Virginia Legislature that West Virginia should be a place that welcomes and respects ALL people!
Please join us along with Boss Babes and WV Free at an Unequal Happy Hour to draw attention to the gender pay gap and to highlight policies that would help to close it. West Virginia has the third-largest gender pay gap in the nation. Women working full-time, year-round are paid, on average, 74 percent of what their male counterparts are paid.
The numbers are even more stark for women of color with black women making just 63 cents to every dollar a man makes and Latina women making just 60 cents. Legislators and advocacy groups will be on hand to discuss policies that they are championing in West Virginia to close the gap for all women.
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