West Virginia Press Association, Point Pleasant Register – Job creation, workforce development and education were three of the hard-hitting points of Monday’s West Virginia Association Press Legislative Lookahead event held in Charleston. Read
A gathering of media and industry professionals from across the state, the event sought to foster insightful conversation on what issues are expected to take high priority during the 2015 State Legislative Session.
Several key lawmakers participated in the “GOP Takeover” panel, which focused on the agenda of the new Republican majority in the state Senate. The discussion, moderated by Heather Henline, publisher of The Inter-Mountain newspaper in Elkins, included Sens. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, the incoming Senate President; Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, the incoming majority leader; Daniel Hall, R-Wyoming, the incoming majority whip; and Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, the outgoing Senate president.
Cole opened the dialogue, stating “Jobs, by themselves, are virtually the solution to everything that ails us in this state.” Cole said that job creation is only possibly by creating a friendlier business climate, but the state also must be able to fill the created jobs with a strong, educated workforce.
“Jobs are the critical issue facing our state,” agreed Carmichael, adding that he does not believe there is “one silver bullet” to solve the problem. Carmichael listed tort reform, regulatory reform and tax reform as the three-prongs of West Virginia’s “stool” for economic development.
Each senator stressed the importance of bipartisan cooperation in the upcoming session in order to improve the business climate. All agreed that education and workforce development both play critical roles in a thriving business climate, and West Virginia is lacking in each area.
Kessler said that he does not feel that business tax breaks are an effective means of job creation, and does not intend to support additional business tax breaks this session.
He said that a study performed by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy revealed the previous breaks did not generate the job increases the Legislature hoped see.