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Economy

Lawmakers Need to Pull W.Va. Out of Rut

As West Virginia lawmakers got to work Monday in a special session to figure out how to spend approximately $1 billion in unappropriated federal funds, they got a nagging reminder the state’s economy needs all the help it can get. According to WalletHub’s report “2021’s Best and Worst State Economies,” the Mountain State is not just struggling, it is at rock bottom.

In its overall rankings, the personal finance website placed West Virginia 50th. Only Hawaii is worse off. (Washington, D.C., is included on the list). Our state ranks 50th in economic activity, 40th in economic health, and 51st in innovation potential.

We’ve got the 47th lowest change in GDP; we’re ranked 51st in startup activity, 51st for median annual household income, 49th for percentage of jobs in high-tech industries, and 50th for the number of independent inventor patents per 1,000 working-age population.

West Virginia is stuck in a rut — a deep one, dug by a fear of letting go of a past that was not so rosy and moving into a future that could be full of potential, if we behave as though that is what we want. Take a look at those indicators for innovation, startups, high-tech jobs and inventors. They are abysmal, because we have done NOTHING to create an environment where that kind of progress is welcomed and encouraged.

Mountain State families want better for their children and the state as a whole. For goodness sake, what will it take for lawmakers and the bureaucrats to realize that? We can’t go any lower. The options are to stay where we are or rise.

Which will they choose?

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