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Budget for their future

From The Dominion Post:

Little is known about the poem “The Merry Month of May,” other than it was first published in a play in 1599.

Since then, that title has shown up in songs, a novel, commercials, editorials and so on.

Yet, we often think of May as perhaps the most bittersweet month of the year.

It marks the graduation of thousand of our best and brightest young people from our high schools, colleges and universities.

No, not that anyone is sad to see them achieve such benchmarks in their lives.

But it’s what too often happens next that leaves not just parents and grandparents dismayed, but our communities and state, too.

Of course, many are restless and have itchy feet and want to see the other side of the hill or the world.

Everyone understands that. Everyone was young once. But it’s the many others who struggle to stay here but simply cannot find a viable career that’s cause for concern.

Last summer, one of the first things the new mayor of Wheeling did was to create a special committee for “population retention.”

That area of West Virginia — the Upper Ohio Valley — lost several thousand residents in the last decade.

The total number of West Virginia residents declined by nearly 10,000 from July 2015 to July 2016 alone — the worst decline rate of any state.

All told, since the 2010 census, the Mountain State’s population declined by more than 22,000 residents.

And although we have no hard and fast data at our fingertips, undoubtedly, a majority of those leaving were young.

It was interesting to hear 21-year-old Dana Janowitz, the state Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneur of the Year, counsel his peers this week at a function in Fairmont.

“If you’re a young person and you’re thinking about leaving — don’t. Stay here and fight. Don’t give up on West Virginia.”

We applaud his message, but we are skeptical about how many his words will sway.

Instead, we counsel the Legislature again and urge its members to invest in our state, not forsake it.

Now in special session to consider revenue measures and ultimately approve a state budget, its members should look to the Classes of 2017 and the future.

Young people and the new businesses that cater to them need a reason to stay here or come here.

That’s not going to happen if we allow revenues to stagnate and our potential to decline.

If you want to give our young people a reason to stay after graduating, give them opportunity.

And a future where if they work hard they very well may succeed, rather than just maybe.

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