Cuts to the FY 2014 state budget are beginning to take their toll as the state’s colleges and universities react by taxing college goers with an increase in tuition. With state aid decreasing and tuition costs increasing, students and their families are taking a double hit, while the state continues to make inefficient business tax cuts that mostly go to the wealthy. Get the details in Sean’s blog post this week.
West Virginia In-State Tuition Skyrockets
West Virginia often has the dubious distinction of coming in first place and not in a good way. Being “number one” in unfavorable categories can create a stereotype of the state’s low-income residents who need income supports because of low-paying jobs and a lack of job opportunities. Debunking that myth in his blog post this week, Ted shows how the number of West Virginians dependent on cash assistance has decreased dramatically over the past few decades and the state is no more reliant on cash assistance than elsewhere in the nation.
Among those undesirable rankings is the state topping the nation in the number of unintentional drug overdose fatalities among those between 18 and 45 years old. In his blog post this week, Brandon explains how another benefit of Medicaid expansion will be covering uninsured people who have substance abuse problems. Not only will this help individuals in need, but addressing the state’s rampant drug abuse problem will help its prison over-crowding crisis and help bring fiscal stability.
This week Downstream Strategies released a new report on the future of coal production. In 2010, the group teamed up with the WVCBP to release a report on the impact of coal on the state budget and how the industry actually costs the state more in infrastructure and other costs than it provides in employment and severance taxes. According to the federal government, coal production will drop drastically over the next 30 years, in large part due to the increase in natural gas production. How will the state prepare for the inevitable ripple effects of this major shift? Read more in the Charleston Gazette’s story from this week.
Much of our research and policy work this year will focus on how to reduce poverty in West Virginia. One interesting approach is to get rid of all assistance programs and provide everyone with a basic income guarantee. While we don’t endorse this concept, it makes for an interesting Friday afternoon read.