- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


June 1

The Charleston Gazette on organ donors:

Maybe you noticed that some West Virginia families insert “organ donor” emblems in Gazette-Mail obituaries of their loved ones.

We can’t imagine a more humane service any family could provide. Organ donation saves lives and heals people. It’s a selfless process based on the “better angels of our nature,” to use Lincoln’s phrase for noble human instincts.

We hope more people become donors, and families use donor emblems in obits to encourage others to follow suit. Donation relieves suffering in medical victims unknown to the donors.

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education, based in Charleston and Pittsburgh, says: “Amazingly, a single donor can save up to eight lives, but only a fraction of us are registered to donate.” The organization continues:

“The heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines can all be transplanted as lifesaving organs. Tissues such as bones, ligaments and tendons are needed for vital surgical procedures to repair injured or diseased joints and bones. Corneas, heart valves and skin are also able to be donated.”

Around America, about a million sick people desperately wait for donated organs to give them new hope for life. More than 10,000 die yearly because no organs are available.

It costs nothing to rescue these victims. All you need to do is register as a potential donor through the state Division of Motor Vehicles. A small caduceus medical symbol is inserted beside your photo on your driver license or state ID card, to notify medical personnel of your decision.

Starting in 2007, the Legislature authorized special “Donate Life” license plates to donors who want them.

If you become an organ donor, part of you will live on in sufferers you helped. It’s a wonderful service to humanity.




June 1

The Journal on the state budget:

Very few people seemed to be cheering the news last week that the West Virginia House of Delegates had approved a state budget bill. That is because the measure is highly unlikely to be signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, even if it is accepted by the state Senate.

In some ways the House budget is flawed. But in another - real cuts in state spending - it is the right approach.

By the numbers, the situation is this: There is a gap of about $270 million between spending plans in the budget and revenue expected to be collected during the fiscal year that begins July 1. Lawmakers and Tomblin must find some formula to close it, using spending cuts, higher taxes, borrowing from the emergency Rainy Day Fund, or in-budget transfers. Some combination of those methods needs to be crafted.

Approaches using tax increases - specifically on tobacco products - have been rejected by the House. A few Republicans combined with a solid Democrat group have seen to that.

So the bill approved Friday includes no tax increases. The $271 million package has four primary components:

$34 million in eliminated subsides to casinos and greyhound racing.

$45 million in specific spending cuts.

$49 million “swept” from unused funds already in agencies’ accounts.

$143 million taken from the emergency Rainy Day Fund.

Tomblin already has warned he would veto any budget bill taking too much from the Rainy Day Fund. Beyond doubt, the House bill’s $143 million will not be acceptable to him.

Even if the measure makes it to Tomblin’s desk and is returned with a veto, it may be a useful blueprint for a new budget.

State reports show a total of $4.256 billion in spending from the general revenue fund for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

But the House bill includes a total of just $4.088 billion in general revenue money - a spending cut of $168 million.

And, according to reports, the House bill spares some agencies, including the gigantic Department of Health and Human Resources, from any substantive cuts.

Some method of avoiding massive borrowing from the Rainy Day Fund needs to be found. Tomblin is right to think a major raid on the fund is a bad idea.

But if that obstacle can be overcome, the House bill could be a good foundation for a new budget.




June 1

Parkersburg News and Sentinel on living wages:

College graduates looking for a place to start their careers are bombarded by information as they try to make good decisions. One of those pieces of information comes from a career-planning website called Zippia, which ranked the “living wages” in all 50 states.

Based on the amount of income needed to support two adults and one child in each state, using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage calculator, Zippia says a living wage in West Virginia is $44,823 - the third-lowest in the country, behind only Arkansas and Kentucky. In Ohio, the living wage is listed at $45,853 - still within the bottom ten.

Those numbers would be much more appealing, however, if most West Virginia households earned enough to cover them. According to 2014 figures, the median household income - that is, the total income of everyone over the age of 15 living under one roof - was $41,059 in the Mountain State. Half of households in the state bring in considerably less than what MIT and Zippia consider to be a living wage for two adults and one child.

In Ohio, meanwhile, the 2014 median household income was $49,308; quite a bit more than the state’s reported living wage.

When faced with numbers like those, it is no wonder West Virginia’s best and brightest look for greener pastures when considering where to put down roots. When lawmakers talk about finding ways to bring more jobs to West Virginia - or simply replace the many we have lost - it is essential they work to attract employers who will bring good, decent-paying jobs, not just another round of minimum wage positions.

Having a low cost of living is attractive. But when wages are not enough to keep up with even that low cost, lawmakers should be doing double duty to keep residents from feeling any more pinch than they already do, while encouraging the kind of economic diversification that might put a few more dollars in their pockets.



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