In executive orders issued on Saturday, August 8th, the President announced plans to address the eviction crisis, expired unemployment insurance benefits, student loan relief, and a payroll tax cut.
President Trump’s executive actions are far too meager, ineffective, and legally dubious to address the crisis that families in West Virginia and across the nation are facing. Only Congress can enact a federal relief response plan that is robust enough to address the immediate and ongoing needs of our people. Our U.S. Senators and the Trump Administration must go back to the negotiating table now and pass a package that reflects the magnitude of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
Download the infographic PDF here.
Last month Congress let emergency unemployment benefits expire, despite ongoing record levels of unemployment and a weakening economic recovery. While the U.S. House of Representatives passed a substantial relief bill in May that would have extended the enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of the year, the Senate was unable to come to an agreement. As a result of this inaction, the boosted benefits expired, slashing the incomes of thousands of West Virginians.
While President Trump issued an executive order to create a joint federal-state program that gives a reduced payment to unemployed workers, the plan is underfunded, inadequate, and no substitute for a real COVID-19 relief package from Congress.
Read Sean’s full blog post.
West Virginia’s regional jail population has been growing for years at a cost to both inmate safety and county budgets. Between 2010 and 2019, the average jail population increased by 30 percent. The average daily population statewide has exceeded total jail capacity for eight of the last nine years, putting those incarcerated at extreme risk of harm. Threats to inmate safety include health consequences, such as contracting COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, increased chance of violence, and more.
Even as counties struggle to pay for needed investments in public services due to the weight of rising jail costs on their budgets, there are few discussions about reducing the jail population. The WVCBP is currently in the process of creating a report that analyzes the impact of regional jail incarceration on county budgets. This post explores the initial trends for counties that comprise the jurisdiction of Western Regional Jail (WRJ): Cabell, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam, and Wayne.
Read Quenton and Bryan’s full blog post.
Food for All is a coalition made up of organizations across West Virginia that work to address food insecurity in the state. As more and more people struggle to put food on the table amid the pandemic-induced recession, the coalition submitted a letter to Senators Capito and Manchin last Friday expressing concern over the inadequacies of the HEALS Act provisions and calling on the Senators to take meaningful action to provide adequate relief.
The letter states:
“We urge you to advocate with all the weight of your office so that the next COVID-19 relief package includes the following measures:
* A 15% increase in maximum SNAP benefits * Extension of unemployment benefits originally passed in the CARES Act * Increase the FMAP for Medicaid match to 12% * Additional direct aid for county and local governments providing critical services during the pandemic.”
Seth DiStefano, our policy outreach director, was interviewed last week regarding this letter. He is quoted saying:
“We are going to be dealing with the economic aftermath of this pandemic for quite some time. We don’t need to be picking arbitrary stop dates for unemployment compensation or Medicaid coverage or an increase in SNAP benefits. We need to guarantee these family economic supports until the economy has recovered.”
Read the full article here.
Read more about how we might address West Virginia’s food insecurity crisis here.
As a result of the Trump Administration’s decision to cut the collection of 2020 census data short, the self-response deadline to complete the census in West Virginia is now September 30.
From reduced FMAP and CRF funding to lost congressional seats and business opportunities, an incomplete and inaccurate census will have a harmful impact on our state.
A recent article dove into just how damaging this impact will be:
“…unless the deadline for the census is extended, West Virginia stands to lose millions of dollars in federal funding every year until the 2030 census is complete.”
As of August 4, the national census response rate was 62.9% and the response rate in West Virginia was only 54.6%.
If you have not done so already, please make sure that you & those in your household are included. Each person accounted for means more funding for much-needed public services!
You can complete the census online here.
The Senate-proposed HEALS Act and Trump’s executive orders fail to include the much-needed 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit for all households. As Congress resumes negotiations for the next federal package, it is imperative that policymakers include this essential boost to SNAP.
The number of people struggling to put food on the table has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic and recession, particularly in households with children.
SNAP is America’s most successful anti-hunger program. It has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms available both to reach low-income households and to provide counter-cyclical help in recessions. The modest boost described above would help millions of American families, resulting in about $25 more per person per month.
Watch the video below to learn more about why SNAP matters now more than ever.
ReImagine Appalachia is a coalition whose mission is to create a future for the Ohio Valley that’s good for workers, communities, and the environment.
The group released its policy blueprint last month outlining how it plans to expand opportunity through public investments, build a 21st century sustainable Appalachia, and rebuild the middle class. The coalition framework was created by and for Appalachians, and we are excited to be a part of this innovative and ambitious new effort.
Take a moment to learn more about the coalition by viewing the video below.
West Virginia’s coal-impacted communities have been heavily burdened with economic, environmental, and public health problems as a result of the mining industry. The RECLAIM Act would release $1.6 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund to jumpstart the reclamation of mine land abandoned before 1976. In West Virginia, the RECLAIM Act would make available approximately $200 million over five years to support reclamation projects that would work to clean up our communities.
Urge your senators to pass the RECLAIM Act here.
The President’s recent executive actions leave out too many critical needs faced by West Virginia’s public servants. The actions don’t protect public service jobs and they don’t address the crisis that parents are facing by failing to include funding to safely reopen school and child care centers.
Only Congress can enact a package that meets the needs of public employees and the infrastructure that makes our cities, states and country run effectively.
Tell Senators Capito and Manchin to urge their Congressional colleagues to take action now.
Sign the petition here.