The Front Porch

Balancing West Virginia's state budget is not rocket science, but it's hard politics.

Can the West Virginia Legislature balance the state budget?

The constitution requires it, but that answer remains very much in doubt as we record this week's Front Porch Podcast.

On The Front Porch podcast, it’s our post-primary breakdown. Who won, who got beat…and who lost, because in West Virginia politics, you actually have to spell that out.

McGraw Campaign

This is perhaps the West Virginia GOP’s worst nightmare – waking up May 11 to newly-elected Supreme Court Justice Darrell McGraw.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. When the GOP took over the state legislature last year, one of their biggest reforms was to make judicial elections non-partisan.

But since the election is decided in one vote, during the primary and without a runoff, the controversial former Attorney General could be elected with only a small plurality of votes.

Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton won West Virginia's primary by a landslide.

This time, her visit was met with dozens of angry protestors.

Even at a roundtable discussion, she was confronted by laid off coal miner Bo Copley, who asked how she could "come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend."

That comes after her infamous remark - which she has since apologized for - that "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

Transgender people are increasingly coming out and speaking up here in West Virginia. How are we going to respond?

Blacks make up only 3 percent of West Virginia’s population – but 28 percent of the people in jail or prison. What gives?

Are black people committing more crimes? Or is the criminal justice system biased against blacks?

”I think it’s almost 100 percent the bias against black people,” said Pastor Matthew Watts of the HOPE Community Development Corporation. Watts has worked for more than 20 years to help young people find employment.

Thomas Goodman says it's not a struggle to stay in West Virginia -- it's a choice.

"If you’re a young person and you have a degree of…ambition, and you’re willing to stick it out through the heartache we’re enduring right now, on the backside of that, you’ll write your own ticket," he said. "If you’re willing to assume responsibility and be a leader, the opportunity will present itself."

The Front Porch spoke with Goodman as part of our "The Struggle to Stay" series, co-sponsored with West Virginia Living.

This week, we talk with Garrett Ballengee, executive director of The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.

Who’s to blame for the decline of the white working class?

Kevin D. Williamson, a writer for the National Review, has an answer: it’s their own fault.

http://photographyisnotacrime.com

This week, The Front Porch gang is too busy celebrating passage of the Brunch Bill to do a new episode - so enjoy this classic podcast, one of the most popular we've ever done, about what happens when outsiders with cameras visit a remote Appalachian community.

Jesse and Marisha Camp were driving through McDowell County when they were confronted by angry residents who believed they were taking photos of their children.

Perry Bennette / West Virginia Legislative Photography

It’s been a horrific year for the state budget in West Virginia. There’s a budget hole to fill of about $400 million because of the collapse of severance tax revenue from coal and gas.

There are basically three ways to balance the budget:

1. Raise taxes

2. Cut spending

3. Dip into the state’s savings.  

Governor Tomblin proposed to balance the budget through a mix of all three – a 4 percent across-the-board spending cut, a tax on cell phone service and a 45 cent increase in the cigarette tax.

It can be hard to live in West Virginia - especially now. Hear us discuss why we stay, despite the struggle.

Also, a retiring lawmaker recites a moving poem about living in flyover country, in response to a degrading tweet from Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

There’s evidence Donald Trump may be more popular in West Virginia than any other state.

  The death of Justice Antonin Scalia leaves a huge vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court. Whoever fills the position could impact the President's Clean Power Plan, abortion rights and the direction of the court for a generation.

PBS

Amber Miller admits she was no angel. She hung out with the wrong crowd. She used drugs.

When she was 20, she went to prison for stealing $30 from her grandmother.

But 12 years later, she is still labeled as a felon. And that's hurt her ability to find work.

A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers is sponsoring a "second chance" bill. It would allow first-time, non-violent felons to ask a judge to expunge their record a certain time after release.

Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect religious expression, or allow people to discriminate against certain groups?

On this Snowmaggedon edition of The Front Porch:

1. A huge snowball fight breaks out over Right to Work, and whether it is right for West Virginia

2. Does Sen. Chris Walter's bill to expand broadband internet access stand a snowball's chance in hell? Should it?

What do Don Blankenship, heroin, and pepperoni rolls have in common? They’re all on our highly-unscientific list of top stories for 2015.

West Virginia is likely to become the 26th “right-to-work” state when the legislature meets in January. GOP leaders say they have the votes, and they can override Gov. Tomblin’s veto with a simple majority.

How would passing a right-to-work (RTW) law change West Virginia?

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