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Keeping Reforms Coming in W.Va.

It may come as a shock to you, but quite a few people were happy with how things went in West Virginia during the past few decades.

Of course, many Mountain State residents were not doing well. West Virginia has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation. Many job creators thinking of coming here look at the regulatory and tax burden and change their minds. We have some of the worst schools. During a time when more should have been done to diversify our economy, state government did little.

Of course, that environment was a good thing for some people. It meant job security for the bureaucrats and money in their pockets from those able to exploit the system.

Meanwhile, most West Virginians were going nowhere — except, perhaps, to other states to find work.

How did state government allow that to happen? Two words: Democrat control.

More than 80 years of one-party control of the Legislature and, often, the governor’s office put the Mountain State where it is today.

Two years ago, voters rebelled. They elected enough Republicans to put that party in control of the Legislature. Led by state Senate President Bill Cole, lawmakers began the hard work of turning things around.

Now Cole is running for governor. His opponent, Democrat Jim Justice, has the gall to accuse him and other Republicans of being the cause of the state’s current woes.

Justice makes vague promises about how he will revive the economy. He even suggested one answer to the southern coalfields’ problems could be attracting a Dollywood-like theme park. But he never says how that could happen.

In contrast, Cole has solid, practical ideas. For one thing, he wants to slash the bureaucracy. Cole points out our state has 230 regulatory boards, compared to 90 in most other states. If they can do with less red tape, why can’t we?

As governor, Cole would keep the reforms coming.

But special interests that liked the way things were for 80 years are spending lots of money to turn the clock back. They want to defeat Cole simply because he is a threat to the cushy ride they enjoyed for so long.

They must think West Virginians are stupid.

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