CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday announced five steps it says are "game changers" to positively impact West Virginia if implemented.
Among them are health care, the legal system and energy, the chamber said.
"Like most states, West Virginia finds itself limited in the number of issues that can be addressed. But, as states struggle to achieve economic growth and improve unemployment numbers, each faces a myriad of serious issues that, in nearly every case, will have an impact on generations to come. With that in mind, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce continues its long-standing efforts to advocate for the most pressing issues affecting the well-being of all West Virginians," explained Chamber President Steve Roberts.
The chamber identified five issues requiring immediate attention. They are:
* Education: The state devotes nearly half of the general revenue budget to fund education, yet a recent national study ranked West Virginia's education system among the bottom five states. Children must be offered an educational experience that prepares them for success in life. It is apparent that West Virginia students are not getting the necessary tools for learning jobs skills or enrolling and finishing college. Residents should demand an educational system that meets the challenges.
* Fair Courts: Prior to the recent implementation of revised appellant procedures by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, West Virginia was the only state without an appeal of right for civil and criminal cases from a lower court. The chamber believes appellate review is essential to ensure a fair and balanced judicial system. It is crucial to monitor and evaluate the revised appellate rules to ensure the goals of an appeal of right are properly met.
* Energy: West Virginia has much of its economic base tied to energy production. It is vital that state and federal laws and regulations are workable and sensible so the Mountain State can continue to produce the energy the nation requires while also protecting the environment. The chamber urges all branches of government to explore initiatives and incentives to promote and encourage the continued development of the state's energy potential.
* Health care: Having been identified in many national health care reports as one of the least-healthy states, health care in West Virginia becomes more expensive each year and the annual cost of Medicaid has reached critical levels. West Virginia must immediately develop a comprehensive plan to address the full range of health care issues facing the state.
* Transportation and infrastructure: West Virginia must continue an ambitious transportation program, maintain existing roadways and continue improvement of water and sewer utilities. The chamber supports a bipartisan effort by the legislative and executive branches and the state's congressional delegation to ensure this happens.