Pages tagged "Economic Development News"
Coal Tattoo Blog - There's a new report out from the Bookings Institute that's worth taking a look at. Here's what the press release says: Read
The recent boom and bust of unconventional oil and gas development, or "fracking," has reopened serious questions about resource management in many U.S. states. While the oil and gas boom generated revenue, jobs, and economic development, the recent bust has adversely impacted state budgets due to declining industry investments in exploration and production and job cuts.
The boom-bust cycle of unconventional oil and gas development highlights the need for strategic management by state governments of fracking-related revenues, not only to minimize the less desirable aspects of the boom-bust cycle but also to enhance long-term prosperity. States can address these challenges by imposing a reasonable severance (extraction) tax on their oil and gas industry and channeling a portion of the revenue into permanent trust funds. In doing so, states can convert volatile near-term revenues from unconventional oil and gas development into a longer-term and continuous source of investment funds for building sustainable and dynamic economies.
For Immediate Release
(Charleston, WV) – Now is the time for West Virginia to reverse years of neglect and step up investment in state-of-the-art school facilities; up-to-date water treatment plants; better highways; and other public infrastructure—which is vital to creating good jobs and promoting full economic recovery. That's the crucial message in "It's Time for States to Invest in Infrastructure," a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that concludes every state needs infrastructure improvements that have the potential to significantly boost private sector investment and long-term economic growth. Read PDF of news release. Read PDF of report.
The author, Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. McNichol warns that neglecting infrastructure has serious consequences for a state's growth and quality of life. "States must turn their attention back to the type of infrastructure investments that will boost productivity, support business growth, create jobs, provide a healthier environment, and improve opportunities for all of their residents," McNichol wrote. "The specific investment needs will differ from state to state, depending on factors like the condition of the existing infrastructure and the mix of industries in the region. But states continue to ignore needed investments at the country's peril."
The report's findings show that investment in unmet infrastructure needs will improve West Virginia's economy now and in the future. Modernizing transportation systems and other infrastructure boosts productivity by supporting businesses and residents, improving the education and job readiness of future workers, and helping communities to thrive. Key infrastructure improvements also will provide immediate job opportunities for Americans who are working less than they would like and making less than it takes to get by. Infrastructure investments typically bring higher wages and better quality of life for years in the future.
"With interest rates low and unemployment high - and our roads and bridges deteriorating at an alarming pace - investing in infrastructure will pay off now and into the future," stated Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "This is a timely report that comes at a point when we have to make choices about how we are going to train our future workers, support our businesses, improve our communities and put our state on solid financial ground."
Despite persistent evidence of the benefits of infrastructure investment, West Virginia has increased funding to maintain its infrastructure by just 0.09% as a share of its economy from 2002 to 2013. While this is more than most states, spending on all types of capital improvements is vital to creating good jobs and promoting full economic recovery. It matters because states and localities own 90 percent of the nation's non-defense public infrastructure, so this problem can't be solved by the federal government. Federal spending on infrastructure has fallen by half in the past 35 years, making the problem worse.
"Even though West Virginia is facing a weak economy and is struggling to balance its budget, now is the time to step up our investment in public infrastructure," explained Sean O'Leary, Senior Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "Maintaining our roads and bridges supports businesses and provides immediate job opportunities for West Virginians, while creating lasting benefits that will make the state's future economy stronger."
SNL - The West Virginia Coal Association, or WVCA, announced a new study aiming to bolster their argument for a steep reduction in its tax burden, an effort it said could help turn the tide on the state's flailing coal sector. Read
The trade association hopes the West Virginia legislature will cut the coal severance tax rate from 5% to 2% to increase the state's competitiveness with neighboring coal-producing states that have little to no severance tax. In a Feb. 15 news release, the group touted a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that predicts the reduction in severance taxes would allow for increased sales and production of coal from West Virginia.
"Over 1,500 hard-working West Virginia miners have been laid off or received notices in the past two months," said WVCA President Bill Raney. "West Virginia's excessive coal severance tax is a significant cause of the recent layoffs and it must be reduced immediately to prevent more job loss."
The report concluded that the tax rate cut would save 1,864 West Virginia jobs — a combination of 464 direct coal mining jobs, 345 coal transportation jobs, 490 indirect jobs in supplier industries and jobs induced from saved household spending. The report projects in its baseline case that $132 million in labor income and $299 million in gross domestic product would be saved annually by the state.
— Today Congress announced legislation to create the RECLAIM Act (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More). The legislation would release $1 billion in funding from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund over the next five years to revitalize communities impacted by the decline of the region's coal industry. PDF of news release.
The bill has bipartisan support and is cosponsored by Congressman Evan Jenkins from West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District.
"We applaud this historic bipartisan bill by Congressman Evan Jenkins and others to help diversify West Virginia's economy and help struggling coal communities," said Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "The RECLAIM Act is an important and significant step toward building a stronger economy in West Virginia in the wake of the state's declining coal production."
The RECLAIM Act comes on the heels of 27 resolutions that have been passed by local governments in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee calling for Congress to take action to help aid coalfield communities. In 2015, the County Commissions of Fayette, Kanawha, and Raleigh, Lincoln, and Wyoming passed resolutions in West Virginia.
The State Journal - West Virginia has been losing population for three straight years; the coal economy is in shambles; it now appears inevitable the state will lose a Congressional seat after the 2020 Census; and until now, government consolidation has never been taken seriously. Perhaps the time has come to realize the days of county courthouses and school systems structured to accommodate travel by horse and buggy are over. Read
The Internet has arrived and broadband is the new road to travel. Yet the state's government structure and programs are still organized as if the world has stood still for the past 100 years. Has the crisis point been reached when new ideas for service delivery and government reorganization may at last be receptive to community and governmental leaders coming to the forefront in West Virginia? Perhaps the time for government consolidation has finally arrived in the Mountain State.
Ted Boettner, of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, has been quoted in the Charleston Gazette-Mail as saying, "West Virginia is just in complete stagnation." His comment is likely the sentiment of most West Virginians. Yet, little decisive action has been taken. It will take time to reverse the population trends draining the state of its lifeblood. But what can be accomplished in the near term is a complete analysis of how local, county and state governments are organized and how their services are delivered. This will help bring the economy back into balance and lay the foundation for growth over time.
Charleston Gazette -West Virginia lost about 6,000 people in the 2014-15 fiscal year — shrinking for the third straight year — the U.S. Census Bureau says. By losing one-fourth of a percent, the Mountain State had the nation's worst decline, while most of America keeps growing. Read
Consider this contrast: In the 1940 census, both West Virginia and Florida had 1.8 million people. Today, the Mountain State still has 1.8 million, and Florida has passed 20 million.
"West Virginia is just in complete stagnation," Ted Boettner of the state Center on Budget and Policy said. "We've been unable to transition to a knowledge-based economy, and that has meant people leaving here in flocks."
A WVU demographer blamed the latest outmigration on the coal industry's retreat. A decade ago, the state had 544 operating mines, but the number dropped to 88 in October, state officials report. Painful layoffs hit southern coal counties with dismal frequency. Young people leave the state in search of careers.
Charleston Gazette-Mail - West Virginia lost more than 6,100 people between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, according to the 2015 population estimates put out by the U.S. Census Bureau. Read
Percentage-wise, West Virginia's 0.25 percent decrease was the largest in the country. Six other states lost population, according to the Census: Illinois, Connecticut, Mississippi, Maine, Vermont and New Mexico.
West Virginia has seen a population decrease for three straight years in the Census estimates.
"What's remarkable is that West Virginia is just in complete stagnation," said Ted Boettner, executive director of the progressive-leaning West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
The population of the state has fluctuated in Census data since its peak in 1950, but while West Virginia made up 1.3 percent of the U.S. population in 1950, today it only makes up 0.57 percent.
West Virginia also is the only state that has seen a decrease in population since 1950. Iowa, the state that has seen the lowest growth after West Virginia, has grown by 19.18 percent.
Wall Street Journal - Health care jobs are rising across the country, as an aging population demands more nurses, doctors and home health aides. The economy added 638,000 jobs in the education and health services industry sector between November 2014 and November 2015, the bulk of them in health care. Read
Twenty-one states added at least 10,000 in that sector over the past year, the Labor Department reported Friday. Three large or densely populated states, California, Texas and New York, added 71,000, 63,800 and 72,100 education and health services job respectively over the previous 12 months. Florida, home to many retirees, added 46,900 jobs in the sector.
Midwest Energy News - In mid-October, a trio of shale drilling states — Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — signed an agreement to grow the natural gas industry on a regional level, focusing on job training, infrastructure and other areas. Read
As that tri-state connection forms, a grassroots network of independent policy organizations and research groups located within the affected region are shaping a more holistic dialogue about the long-term consequences of hydraulic fracturing.
The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, with member groups in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, monitors economic development and the community impacts of energy extraction in the Marcellus and Utica shales.
Affiliates of the coalition, launched in 2013, include the Fiscal Policy Institute (New York), Policy Matters Ohio, Keystone Research Center/Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Commonwealth (Virginia) Institute for Fiscal Analysis, and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.