From Executive Director Don Smith, WVPRESS Extra Blog:
Tomorrow starts the new year, but it’s hard to think about the future, or keep your mind in the present, on Dec. 31. Reminiscing seems appropriate and necessary.
Working for the West Virginia Press Association means lots of days at the Capitol and contact with elected officials and government staffers. These working relationships come and go with the election cycle. Already many of the faces often seen in the marble hallways during 2016 are gone. Off to other positions; many to return soon in new roles.
In terms of improving West Virginia for the future, our state may have squandered a valuable resource with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin being able to serve only one full term of governor after he completed the final year of Joe Manchin’s second term. Forced to campaign both in 2011 and 2012, Tomblin basically had one term and was a lame duck in the second half.
Not that good things didn’t happen in those four years; that’s the point.
As governor, Tomblin was conservative with a tax dollars but worked hard, within the confines of a depressed economy, to find areas of growth. Tomblin and his administration also put great effort into developing programs and providing new opportunities for the unemployed and others impact by the state’s weakened economy.
In retrospect, Tomblin’s work to develop retraining and education programs outweighed the efforts of those willing to seize the new opportunities. There were successes, but too many people ignored the opportunities, waiting instead for the return of lost jobs.
In time, the diminished return on the opportunities Tomblin’s administration offered may loom larger for West Virginia, like interest that would have accumulated on a 401K account if only you had made the contribution.
Tomblin’s decades of experience as a lawmaker and with government policy had real value. Like the educational opportunities his administration offered the unemployed, West Virginia really couldn’t afford to squander that resource.