February 10, 2018

Four for the weekend

Two interesting reports have come out this week, both of which are worth a look. "Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones" looks at the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on West Virginia. It was put out by the WV ACEs Coalition.

The more I learn about ACEs and their impact over the life course, not to mention the human and other costs, the more I realize that this is a big deal with lots of implications. Things would be a lot better if we became more trauma-informed as a society.

Speaking of huge deals, WVU just released "The Economic Impact of Medicaid on West Virginia's Economy."  Condensed version (in the parlance of our time): YUGE. More on that another day.

Also, in case you missed them, here are the links to the latest episode of Wonk's World, our irreverent take on the WV legislature, and the latest Front Porch, in which we discuss the costs of the state's opioid crisis.

February 09, 2018

WV's Hunger Games and how you can help win them

In addition to alienating school teachers and public employees, it looks like WV Governor Jim Justice is supporting a plan to take away SNAP (food stamp) benefits from low income West Virginians and take millions of dollars out of the state's economy.

(Some state employees, by the way, qualify for SNAP.)

 Or at least, he hasn't opposed the plans of the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to do the same.  This Think Progress piece pretty much nails it.

A bill to do more of the same, HB 4001, is likely to be taken up by the Judiciary Committee of the WV House of Delegates next week.

There will be a public hearing on the bill this coming Monday (Feb. 12) at (groan) 8:30 am. If you can make it out, please come and make some noise.

You can also help a lot by calling the office of Chairman John Shott and asking him not to take up the bill. His  number is (304)-340-3252. His email is John.Shott@wvhouse.gov.  You can reach other members of the Judiciary Committee here.

You can reach the governor's office at 304-558-2000 or email him from this site.

February 04, 2018

Solidarity forever--and today

I have fond memories of the 1990 West Virginia teachers' strike. I was still new to working on social justice issues for the American Friends Service Committee. My first big adventure was supporting coal miners and their families in the Pittston Coal Strike, which lasted from April 5 1989 until Feb. 20, 1990.

I was kind of going through picket line withdrawal at the time and thought it was awfully nice of state teachers to help me out. Seriously though, teacher pay and morale at the time were rock bottom. The strike wasn't called by any unions; rather it grew like wildfire starting in the southern West Virginia coalfields. And it worked, with major gains for teachers.

(My fondest memory is of my late mother, who had just retired from teaching. She was boiling mad that our county hadn't walked out and asked me to bring up some union coal miners to picket and shut things down. I thought it was a great idea and got on the case but the teachers  wound up settling the strike before that could be arranged. I guess you can't have everything.)

 There could be some deja vu going on here, asWV Gazette-Mail reporter Phil Kabler wrote in today's paper.

Even while Republican legislators claim "we" can't afford a decent raise for teachers or a fix to ever increasing PEIA insurance costs, they are pushing a $140 million tax cut for some (mostly out of state) businesses. That would be more than enough to do the right thing. The business  tax cuts would come on top of cuts of over $200 million per year enacted 10 years ago, not to mention the Trump #taxscam tax cuts recently passed by congress.

I guess you could say it's "which side are you on?" time.While we're on the subject of Appalachian labor songs, you can give a listen to Solidarity Forever, the international anthem of the labor movement, which was inspired by events right here just over 100 years ago.

Anyhow, then as now, I stand in solidarity with our teachers. Obviously.

 And I'm grateful that they are showing some of that fighting spirit that once animated West Virginia.