WV Center on Budget & Policy

An update on Governor Tomblin's legislative agenda and members of the Senate Government Organization Committee discuss a House bill that would reform the state Ethics Commission and reduce the number of members it requires. House committees discuss bills from the Senate, including the Future Fund and pay raises for teachers. Ted Boettner of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy about various issues, including taxes, the future fund, and the state budget.

Heartwood Forestland Fund

According to a recent report, the top 25 landowners in West Virginia own about 20 percent of the surface in the state. And perhaps not surprisingly, most of those landowners live elsewhere. The report, released by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, is the first to take a close look at land ownership since the 1970s and it’s created quite a stir.

WV Center on Budget and Policy

It could be argued that West Virginia has never been “owned” by her inhabitants. Before European settlement, of course, ideas of land ownership were not in vogue. Then King Charles II rewarded many loyal friends with large swaths of land and by 1730s, 800,000 acres in what would become West Virginia was owned by three land companies. For the most part, the same trend continues three hundred years later.

Some have argued absentee land ownership in West Virginia has been a major impediment to economic diversification for generations.

Flickr / davidwilson1949

A new report says the Legislature should change the way fiscal notes are prepared for legislation.
     The report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy says fiscal notes are generally inaccurate, often biased, inconsistent and lacking in details.
     Fiscal notes are estimates of the costs of legislation. They are prepared by the state agencies that the legislation would affect.

Union of Concerned Scientists Fellow Jeremy Richardson
Stacy Jarrell / Stacy Jarrell Photography

With coal industry jobs dwindling and many young people leaving the state to find work, speakers at the Bright Economic Future for the Mountain State Conference in Charleston outlined many of the challenges for the state’s economy. Even despite these obstacles, many entrepreneurs, policy experts and grassroots organizations who gathered at the conference said they see plenty of opportunity.