22 February, 2017

House Bill 2568: Fiddling While West Virginia Burns

11 legislators want to make the Bible the official state book of West Virginia. This in a year when 10,000 people per year are leaving our state, businesses are closing and our legislators haven't done anything to fix the workforce and  the economy.

The 11 legislators who introduced or sponsored this bill are Jeff Eldridge, Ralph Rodigherio, Zach Maynard, Rodney Miller, Justin Marcum, Brad White, Kenneth Hicks, Erikka Storch, Steve Westfall, Mark Dean and Bill Hamilton.

This just in: After I posted this, I got an email from Delegate Rodney Miller telling me he has removed his name from the Bible bill. 

These 11 legislators showed up at  the 2017 session without a plan to fix the workforce or the economy but they have time to introduce silly, unnecessary legislation? Please, if you live in one of these legislators' districts, call or write them and tell them that you will remember how they fiddled as West Virginia burns down.

And since our legislators still haven't submitted a plan to get Wes Virginia working, let me remind these 11 legislators that I have introduced a plan (below) that I welcome them to steal.

1. Make the Promise Scholarship a STEM scholarship. Companies won’t come here for our English majors, political science majors and communications majors, but they will come here to gain access to our mathematicians, software engineers, chemists and other STEM grads if we produce them in large numbers.

2. Require Promise Scholarship recipients to sign a contract with West Virginia obligating them to stay in West Virginia for, say, 5 years after graduation. Too many of West Virginia’s college grads are leaving with their degrees and making some other state’s workforce magnetic to outside investment. If they give us five years, they’ll marry, have children, build houses, make friends. Most will never leave. Maybe along the way they’ll invent things and, who knows, maybe some of them will start the next Apple or the next Google.
3. Expand the Promise Scholarship to fund tens of thousands of students’ annually instead of the current 3,000 to 3,500 annually. At its current size, the Promise Scholarship is the right medicine in a dosage insufficient to heal the West Virginia economy.
4. Double the per-student annual scholarship award from its current $4,750 to around $9,000 or $10,000 so students can carry full loads and finish in 4 years.
5. Pay the college debt of STEM grads who want to come to West Virginia and are willing to sign a contract requiring them to become part of West Virginia’s workforce for at least five years.
6. Pay for the above with a severance tax, an excise tax or the proceeds from the state lottery or some combination of the aforementioned. For example, the Tennessee Promise program provides 2 years of free technical or community college to Tennessee high school grads at a cost of about $35 million annually and is paid for by the state lottery.

About Joseph Higginbotham:
Joseph Higginbotham is a former member of the West Virginia Region III Workforce Investment Board, a former executive and technical search consultant, a former general manager and a former columnist and writer for newspapers, magazines and journals such as Business Lexington, Rx HomeCare, Leadership, Drug Store News, Campus Career Counselor, Home Health Care Dealer and more. Higginbotham has spoken professionally at over 40 venues, served as an “expert panelist” at jobseeker workshops and a guest on numerous talk radio shows.

Higginbotham At Large neither reads nor publishes comments from pseudonymous or anonymous commenters. No Ring of Gyges for you.
Mitch Carmichael, Tim Armstead, Senator Mike Hall, Corey Palumbo, Hoppy Kercheval, Mayor Danny Jones, Tom Roten, Jake Jarvis, Ashton Marra, Scott Finn, #StruggleToStay,

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