- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Sept. 9

The Exponent Telegram, Clarksburg, on taxing Internet sales:

Let’s be honest: No one likes to pay taxes.

The idea that a person or company’s hard-earned money needs to be turned over to another party is a difficult concept to swallow.

But so is the absence of vital services like police and fire protection, safe highways and other services provided by local, state and federal agencies.

Without taxes, none of those services would be available at the levels they currently are.

Which brings us to efforts by state and federal officials to address what has long been clamored for: Fair taxation.

Obviously, the definition of fair can be disputed by the parties involved. And there are instances when refining the tax codes will need to be argued and debated at length.

But there are clear situations that need to be addressed - and can be addressed in more expedient fashion than rewriting the entire state and federal tax code.

One such issue deals with the taxation of sales conducted using the Internet, which has been a major sticking point for lawmakers and companies.

Currently, it is estimated that states and local governments lose $23 billion per year because not all Internet sales are taxed, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

There is growing support to address the issue through the Marketplace Fairness Act.

The act basically states what is already well known: “A sale is a sale” and should be subject to tax laws already in place in states.

The act calls for states to simplify their taxation of sales or to join the streamlined sales and use tax agreement. This would allow for easy collection of the taxes owed by individuals and companies.

The Marketplace Fairness Act has support from 24 states and various companies, including Amazon.

And with Internet sales only expected to grow, it’s senseless not to address this issue immediately.

We believe our state and federal lawmakers should be staunch supporters of the initiative




Sept. 6

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, on employment in the state:

Only about half of the adults in West Virginia are working.

That alarming statistic has made headlines around the state over the past year, and it was the central themes of one of the major presentations at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit at The Greenbrier last week.

“This issue is related to all economic problems in one way or another,” economist Dr. John Deskins of West Virginia University told the summit audience. “It’s fundamental and there’s no way we are going to get where we need to be unless we find a way to overcome this tremendous workforce participation deficit.”

But as he pointed out, this is a much more complex issue than the simple “unemployment rate” we read about each month. The workforce participation rate also factors in those who are retired, disabled or not in the workforce for some other reason.

To some extent, the entire national economy is suffering from the same problem. With the large number of baby boomer retirements and fewer women in the workforce than years ago, the national workforce participation rate has dropped from about 68 percent to about 62 percent over the past decade.

Sadly, the rate in West Virginia is significantly lower at about 54 percent. That, combined with job seekers who have not found employment, means the reality is less than half of the state’s adult population is going to work each day, Deskins noted. That simply means fewer dollars circulating in the Mountain State economy, which already has one of the lowest median household incomes in the country - $41,000 a year as compared to the national median of $53,000.

It also means a greater public burden for those who are working to help support those who are not.

But as the State Chamber discussion this week underscored, it is a complicated problem with no simple solutions. Beyond the national trends, the state also faces a higher percentage of older residents, poorer health, lower education and job-skill levels and higher disability rates - each factor with its own set of challenges.

However, it makes sense to start with making sure the able-bodied portion of the population is better prepared for today’s workplace with the education, skills and drive to get good jobs that are out there. As Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has stressed with his My State My Life program over the past year, thousands of good jobs are available in the state, but most require post-secondary degrees or training and good soft skills.

That will require more rigorous public education, stronger retraining efforts and convincing younger and older West Virginians that with hard work, the right skills and determination a better life is within their reach.




Sept. 9

The Charleston Gazette on the state taking Syrian refugees:

One of this state’s shining moments occurred a decade ago when then-Gov. Joe Manchin offered to shelter refugees from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The homeless, helpless people were housed temporarily at Camp Dawson in Preston County, then helped to start new lives. It was a superb humanitarian act.

Currently, vast numbers of desperate families are fleeing war-ravaged Syria and are overwhelming several European countries. Dismal photos of them fill the news. Germany generously is housing 800,000. Britain offered to accept 20,000. Brazil and Chile offered to take more.

So far, America hasn’t taken a stand. But we wonder if West Virginia could offer to receive some Syrian refugees - as it did Katrina victims - and spur a U.S. response. Maybe it would prod the State Department to issue emergency visas. An offer would demonstrate this state’s humane instincts.

We hope Gov. Tomblin and legislative leaders consider this act of kindness.



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