Diversify the Economy
We should be investing in workforce training and small business development to help grow and expand our economy beyond our energy based industries. Included in this is the need to invest in the Department of Commerce’s economic development programs to develop marketable sites for industrial activity and tourism marketing programs.
Reinvest in Education
We must create competitive salaries for teachers and school service personnel as well as provide more funding for students to receive a world-class education. Included in this should be a commitment to continue the improvement of our vocational and technical schools so that students engaged in hands on skills development are adequately prepared to enter the workforce. We should strive to make West Virginia’s public education system one that is nationally ranked for the quality of its teachers, instruction, and outcome measures.
Address Drug Addiction
We must provide more funding for treatment and evidence based community based response efforts, but just as important we must dedicate resources to prevention or we will lose another generation to this horrible affliction.
Ensure Affordable Health Care
Without a healthy workforce, West Virginia will struggle to meet companies’ needs for a qualified workforce. With potential federal cuts to Medicaid, and the rising costs of PEIA, West Virginia must have representation in the State Senate willing to take bold action to assure affordable health care is available to everyone.
Restore Higher Education Priorities
Education leads to higher wages and our state must recommit to fund colleges and universities and do more to lower tuition so more students can afford college. This same level of commitment should be given to community and technical colleges to assure all West Virginians receive the vital skillsets they need to earn a good wage with benefits. Our higher education institutions should lead the way in research and innovation that when commercialized can be the catalyst for creating globally competitive businesses.
Protect Drinking Water
Clean drinking water is paramount to our quality of life. We need to address safety standards initially passed after the 2014 chemical spill and do more to preserve and monitor the quality of our rivers and streams in the Mountain State.
We need to promote legislation ensuring that West Virginians are hired for taxpayer funded projects. I will oppose current attempts to change the WV Jobs Act so that companies can hide the use of out of state labor for state funded projects. Hiring West Virginians will bring quality construction to publicly funded projects and will protect taxpayers from shoddy work and will bring much needed business and employment tax revenues to the state.
Fight for Consumers
The State Senate put special interests ahead of people when it almost passed a bill to give industrial users a discount on their electric bills at the expense of residential customers. West Virginia needs a fighter for consumers in the Senate.
Provide Fiscal Responsibility
Lawmakers have raided the state’s Rainy Day fund which has negatively affected our bond rating. We have to pivot to responsible, fiscal leadership. We must examine all reasonable avenues for revenue enhancement including from the burgeoning shale-gas boom, certain products, and an increase in efforts to use West Virginia companies to provide goods and services. Future generations can richly benefit, if we make sound fiscal decisions today.