HOUSE MINORITY LEADER TIM ARMSTEAD
There are many new Republican faces in the House of Delegates this year. They are excited and ready to roll up their sleeves and work for bold reforms to put West Virginia back on track toward economic recovery.
Our greatest priority this session is job creation. The latest statistics show that 59,700 West Virginians are unemployed, up 1,100 in December 2012 alone. Many of the challenges facing our State can be tied to unemployment and poverty, and we believe we owe it to every West Virginian to do all we can to put our people back to work.
By enacting pro-growth legislation such as setting aside a portion of the state excise tax on natural gas to reduce and eventually eliminate the tax on equipment inventory, we can boost job creation.
We will also work for meaningful education reforms. The education audit completed in 2012 provides many significant recommendations for improving West Virginia’s school system. Removing the red tape and top-heavy bureaucracy that dictates every move from Charleston will allow our principals to administer their schools, our teachers to teach and our students to learn.
We must take steps to ensure excellence in our schools by rewarding our best teachers and promoting accountability.
In addition, we will work to (1) reform West Virginia’s legal process to ensure fairness and predictability for all who enter the state’s courtrooms; (2) revise the state’s property tax appeals process to ensure that taxpayers who feel they have been taxed unfairly have the opportunity to be heard; (3) increase accountability and transparency in relation to spending of state tax dollars; (4) combat election fraud and ensure stronger ethics in government; and (5) do everything we can to fight federal regulations that threaten to cripple the coal industry in our State.
The Republican members in the House are looking forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to write an exciting new chapter in the history of our State.
SENATOR MITCH CARMICHAEL
Each Legislative session begins with optimism for crafting the policies required to launch our state on an exciting path of progress and prosperity. Never more so than today does this sense of opportunity pervade the halls of our state capitol. I believe the 81st West Virginia Legislature offers the best potential in 80 years to correct fundamental problems that cause our economy to be stagnant, jobs to be scarce and our schools to underperform the nation.
These are exciting times to be a West Virginian. The voters of this great state have introduced a two-party system to the halls of state government. In terms of political representation, this legislature is the most balanced between Republicans and Democrats in over 75 years. In such an environment, the best ideas will be refined and perfected in a bipartisan manner with all sides at the table.
My hope is that every citizen seizes the moment with enthusiasm and a sense of urgency. The condition in which we currently find West Virginia should spur every citizen to support fundamental and substantive reform. Against the voices that continually dampen our ambition by false claims that West Virginia is doing well, we have validated facts that prove our people are among the poorest in the nation.
West Virginia has among the highest percentage of people on public assistance of any state. We have the lowest workforce participation rate in America. By virtually any measure of student achievement, West Virginia public schools are falling behind other states. The facts that confront us in the results of independent studies dramatically point to a state that is in urgent need of reform. Now is the time to take bold and courageous steps to enable free-market capitalism to generate prosperity and opportunity for our precious citizens.
The path to economic prosperity, job-creation, and improvement in student achievement is well-known and documented. Let us in West Virginia revitalize our freedom by returning control of public education to local entities. Let us energize the West Virginia economy by embracing the principals of free-market capitalism that made America great. Let us reform our judicial system and lessen the tax burden on citizens and corporations. By so doing, the optimistic hope of this 81st Legislature will be made manifest in the legacy of a new generation of West Virginia children that received a world-class education and families with the advantages of good-paying, private sector jobs.