Blame Game No Solution for W.Va.

West Virginia has made bottom of the list in yet another of those national rankings of states — this time CNBC’s Top States for Business. Ranking last in the nation has become a regular occurrence, and one most Mountain State residents know does not reflect the reality of doing business here.

Our governor responded in entirely predictable fashion, issuing a press release in which he blamed the Republican lawmakers who have spent the last couple of years trying to reverse the 80 years of damage done by Gov. Jim Justice’s party. In fact, Justice’s entire response plays the blame game, rather than providing any kind of solutions or leadership.

It also conveniently leaves out the details of CNBC’s report on the rankings. The first several paragraphs focus not on the Legislature, but on Justice — his status as a “Democratic governor — a billionaire businessman who owns mining and other companies,” his delivery of speeches in an intentionally “heavy drawl,” and his penchant for theatrics. CNBC devoted three paragraphs to Justice’s stunt with the “silver platter containing actual bull-you-know-what.”

Yes, the report also notes West Virginia has one of only seven state economies in the nation that shrank last year — a decline CNBC acknowledges was “almost entirely due to the decline in mining.” It addresses the deceptive unemployment rate by noting, “Mining employment is down 40 percent in just the past five years, with some parts of the state losing as many as 70 percent of their coal mining jobs.”

CNBC adds that the state’s unemployment rate is roughly in line with the national average only because so many people have stopped seeking jobs. And, of course, the substance abuse epidemic comes up in CNBC’s report.

On the other hand, and more to the point about the recent work of the Legislature, CNBC says the state does well in “Cost of Doing Business,” tied for fourth lowest. It mentions recent necessary budget cuts to items such as education, but does not cast judgment, concluding only, “Whether (the FY2018 budget) provides a path for West Virginia out of the depths of our rankings remains to be seen.”

Justice, though, continues to stomp his foot and whine that lawmakers did not do things his way. Rather than look for positives and get to work on the necessary transition of our state’s economy, he prefers to plead with voters to “pay attention.”

They are, governor. They are.


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