Latest News, WV Press Videos

Legislative priorities remains key presentation at State Chamber’s annual Meeting, Business Summit


The State Journal

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — A key part of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Meeting and Business Summit at The Greenbrier is always a presentation by state lawmakers about their agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

The yearly presentation, scheduled for 10:15 a.m., Sept. 1, gives state officials a chance to let state business leaders know what plans or possible legislation may be in the works that could affect the Mountain State’s business community and allows business leaders a chance to share what may be on their minds.

Sharing the state’s plans this year are Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan; House of Delegates Finance Chairman Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha; and Mike Hall, former Senate finance chairman and newly appointed chief of staff to Gov. Jim Justice.

State Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts expects a major topic of conversation to be West Virginia’s financial picture at the end of several years of budget cuts and declining revenue.

“We are expecting the legislative leaders to talk to some extent about where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Roberts said.

Roberts said Nelson told him he intends to give a presentation on the state’s budgetary challenges and talk about where West Virginia government gets its money and where the money goes.

“He wants to take some time and go into some detail,” Roberts said.

He said the chamber’s own legislative agenda stresses a healthy business climate, with public safety, good roads, good primary and secondary education systems and adequate health care as cornerstones. “Our chamber agenda continues to be one of taxes that are fair, competitive and adequate to support the needs of the state,” Roberts said.

Roberts said some chamber members are concerned the Legislature may have gone too far in cutting state spending during the past two legislative sessions, especially in areas like higher education. The budget passed by the state Legislature in June, following months of wrangling, balanced the budget with cuts that included significant decreases in the amount of money given to state colleges and universities.

Roberts said chamber members sent lawmakers a letter during the legislative session, urging them not to cut funding for higher education in the state. The organization’s position hasn’t changed.

Roberts thinks the state could do a better job using the money it spends for K-12 education saying, “We would like to see funding for higher ed increased,” Roberts said. “We feel it’s a job creator.”

Roberts said chamber members are also concerned about the effects of possible federal funding for Medicaid in West Virginia, where a large portion of the population is poor and relies on Medicaid to pay for medical care. West Virginia is consistently ranked as one of the least healthy states in the nation.

“We are not for defunding health care in West Virginia,” Roberts said.

Roberts also said the chamber does not support efforts proposed by legislative Republican and Justice during the 2017 legislative session to eliminate the personal income tax for state residents, at least not while West Virginia is struggling financially.

Friday’s presentation on the legislative agenda will not be the only time state lawmakers will address the chamber during the annual meeting and summit. State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and House Speaker Tim Armstead, R- Kanawha, are scheduled to give a presentation titled “Making West Virginia Irresistible to Business” at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 30.

See more from The State Journal

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address