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Successful privatization should inspire more reform

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  • Transition team must act with urgency

    Transition team must act with urgency

    Friday, December 16 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-16 11:00:16 GMT

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

    Governor-elect Jim Justice’s policy committees seem to be made up of some of the state’s best minds. Dr. Clay Marsh with West Virginia University Hospitals; Bill Ihlenfeld, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District; Richard Adams of United Bank; Dave Arnold with Adventures on the Gorge; a host of other intelligent, qualified, inventive people who understand the challenges our state faces. 

  • Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Chief of staff brings needed experience to the Justice team

    Friday, December 9 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-09 11:00:15 GMT

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

    This week, Governor-elect Jim Justice announced that Nick Casey, a long-time lobbyist, former congressional candidate, former state Democratic Party chairman and a fixture in West Virginia’s political scene, will serve as the Justice administration’s chief of staff.

  • Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Opportunity makes WV workers happy

    Friday, December 2 2016 6:00 AM EST2016-12-02 11:00:19 GMT

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

    As you’ll read in “The Buzz” in this week’s edition, Sokanu, a company that bills itself as “a career discovery platform,” recently released a study that indicated the happiest workers live in Hawaii. Working on a tropical island that boasts breathtaking natural beauty, stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountain vistas should not come as a surprise. 

It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.

It was a broken, defunct operation that no one liked. Not only did it not work, but it also dragged down businesses and gave executives serious pause when they considered expanding or opening shop in the Mountain State. In 2005, led by the newly elected Gov. Joe Manchin, our legislative leaders finally said enough and got to work. They didn’t just implement minor reforms, hide behind lengthy studies or retreat into the tired political-speak of “taking a good first step,” they created BrickStreet Mutual Insurance and then did what government should do — got out of the way.

Today, BrickStreet is a success. Take a look at a few of its more important milestones:

It was recently announced workers’ comp premiums will drop by $32 million this year.

Since the company’s inception, it has saved employers in our state more than $280 million.

We’ve had 10 reductions in 10 years.

Workers’ comp fees are nearly 60 percent less than they were 10 years ago.

Quite simply, that’s amazing. Now, other states, including Ohio, are looking to West Virginia as a model of how to make a complicated and complex system work. In a word, this turnaround has been stunning.

When the will is there, this state can do some amazing things. BrickStreet is just one example. We’ve also addressed Other Post Employment Benefits for state employees — a situation that leading economists have described as a ticking time bomb that will one day destroy public finances — we are retiring debt, and, to use a phrase popularized by now-Sen. Manchin, “getting our financial house in order.”

But there remains so much more to be done. We have to continue to modernize our tax code and make this state a place where businesses feel comfortable investing and expanding. In the face of shrinking revenue and more federal mandates, this is certainly going to be a tall order, but our elected leaders in Charleston need to do what’s necessary, not what’s easy. We also need to find ways to ensure our courts put fairness and equality above politics. Again, taking the needed steps to make this happen will be no simple task, but the assurance of justice certainly transcends expediency or ideology. Perhaps most importantly, we need schools that prepare our children and young people for life in the 21st century. Again, this won’t be easy, but we’ve tackled seemingly impossible tasks before. Creating a better West Virginia means stepping up and doing what’s right.

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