West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a great love of gardening.
In last week’s State of the State Address in Charleston, Tomblin compared governing to gardening in looking toward the future, noting that both require “planning, patience and foresight.”
“We continue to experience positive change across the Mountain State and have set in motion many initiatives that will not fully bloom until long after my term has ended — but the hope of a fruitful harvest keeps us working hard each and every day,” Tomblin said.
The governor is confident West Virginia is on solid footing.
“Make no mistake, the state of our state is strong,” he said. “We pay our bills on time, and we’ve invested in our future by continuing to work together as we face future challenges.”
He is confident, though, that the future can be brighter and that the slight population loss West Virginia has been experiencing can be reversed.
“For those who have left the Mountain State — come home. Come home to take advantage of the growing opportunities that we are creating for you,” Tomblin said. “West Virginia’s garden is thriving, and we will yield a great harvest for years to come.”
Education — critical for the state’s economic future — was a key part in the speech.
Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, supports Tomblin’s emphasis on training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.
“Hopefully this will promote more student interest to get into these technical fields,” Longstreth said. She stated STEM will also be a focus for the House of Delegates this year.
State Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said that, as a former technical education director and administrator and a teacher, he was pleased that the governor was emphasizing STEM and technical education.
“He’s looking out to build a good work force and educate students to be employable,” Prezioso said.
Within Marion County, Prezioso believes that by changing where technical education is taught, and allowing students to take all of their classes at a technical center rather than traveling back and forth between schools, technical education would become more attractive.
House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, commended Tomblin’s proposed mix of vocational and higher education.
“By taking the step of putting the STEM services at vo-tech centers, I think that would go a long way for people who aren’t necessarily college bound,” Miley said.
Tomblin made a number of other proposals. He advocated for slight teacher and state worker pay raises, even as West Virginia faces a $60 million budget deficit. Teachers would receive a 2 percent raise in his budget, while state employees would get a $504 pay boost. The governor also said he hopes to improve the business climate, as well as fight drug abuse and better prepare the state for emergencies.
Plenty will unfold during the ongoing legislative session, and there will be some political battles, for sure.
“It was sort of more of a pep talk and looking back than it was a road map for the future, and that’s what concerns me,” said House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, of Kanawha County. “It’s incredibly important that we take the next 60 days and make some bold changes, particularly in terms of education, in terms of economic growth, in terms of our tax structure.”
Republicans also questioned the proposed raises.
“I’m a little nervous about talking about pay raises in a very bad fiscal year. I understand people need the money, but we’re struggling with a big hole in the budget, so it will be interesting to see how he proposes we pay for that,” said Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall of Winfield.
Raising taxes is not on the governor’s agenda, so there will no dispute there. His budget taps into $84 million of a $918 million Rainy Day Fund that is one of the nation’s best.
“Unlike other states that have had to drain their reserve funds during the recent recession, West Virginia did not have to borrow one dime,” Tomblin said. “In fact, our reserve fund is one of the healthiest in the nation.”
Opposing political sides in Charleston have avoided the paralysis so common in Washington, D.C., so we’re confident the “gardening” this legislative session will help West Virginia be in position to be the best it can be in the present and the years ahead.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has a great love of gardening.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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