West Virginia faces a pivotal moment as we begin to emerge and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. While the pandemic brought many of its own unique challenges that have been addressed by prompt local, state, and government action, an important takeaway that was highlighted during the pandemic was that there are also longstanding, structural challenges to the economic mobility and well-being of our people — challenges that the pandemic did not cause. For that reason, simply returning to the pre-pandemic economy and system is not an option. In order to move our state forward and create a West Virginia that allows all in the state to thrive, we must implement policies that ensure everyone can achieve shared prosperity with the resources needed to balance work, care for family, feel a sense of community, and meet their basic needs.
This recovery agenda is more than just a pathway out of the pandemic recession. It’s a vision for a future in West Virginia where health, education, family economic security, and the needs of workers are put first. This report details priorities that the WVCBP has long advocated for, as well as new policy ideas that have emerged from conversations with West Virginians and our partners. The needs of our state are immense and complex. West Virginia was not thriving prior to the pandemic, and if we don’t change our priorities, we will fail our people.
In addition to outlining policy ideas, we chart a path forward for growing the revenues necessary to fund the policies needed to advance our state. We must end the austerity mindset that has long driven budget cuts and the underfunding of our state agencies, programs, and public services. Instead of projecting flat budgets and slashing programs to pay for tax cuts for the richest West Virginians and out-of-state corporations, we must grow the pie and be forthright about the investment our communities need and deserve.
We envision a West Virginia that isn’t a race to the bottom — where we don’t need to beg people to move here by promising they won’t have to pay their fair share for the services that make communities thrive and that benefit us all. Instead, we envision a future that invests in the promise of the West Virginians who live here now, by fully funding higher education, ensuring that workers have the supports they need, addressing longstanding racial inequities, and making sure everyone can earn a living wage.
In total, this report does not include every policy that we would like to see enacted, but it does show our vision for a West Virginia where everyone has a meaningful opportunity to thrive by eliminating poverty, advancing equity, and ensuring that the state has the resources to provide basic services to our people.
We hope that you will find the ideas in this report to be worthwhile and inspiring. All can tangibly improve the lives of West Virginians if we have the will to push for and implement them. We want to work with our partners, community members, and all West Virginians to see these — and other important policies — enacted. We urge you to join us in the challenging but fulfilling work that is ahead to achieve a West Virginia that works for everyone.
Read the full report here.
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