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WorkForce

Creating a Better Business Climate

Give the pencil-pushers in Charleston a little credit: They made a move late last month they spun as a way to reduce unemployment insurance costs for the state’s businesses by as much as 25% next year — they paid off WorkForce West Virginia’s federal pandemic loan of $185 million before the interest-free period ended. This was accomplished after $220 million was moved to the state’s unemployment trust fund.

“This is going to be a massive reduction in costs for our West Virginia businesses, and I could not be more proud of everyone who put in all the licks that made this possible,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

Other officials weighed in with similarly positive statements.

“The governor and so many of our state’s top economic officials have spent the last year-and-a-half creating a master plan to keep West Virginia on the move through the pandemic and beyond,” said West Virginia Department of Commerce Secretary Ed Gaunch. “Now, you’re seeing that plan being executed to perfection and, in this circumstance, our business leaders will reap the rewards by being able to keep more of their hard-earned money in their bank accounts.”

Even acting WorkForce West Virginia Commissioner Scott Atkins said the move was a “win-win.”

But in the news release officials used to pat themselves on the back for doing precisely what taxpayers expect of them, and not messing it up this time, there is no mention of the source of that $220 million. Is it CARES act money? Is it money that came from the quick return of our economy to relative normalcy? Did Babydog find it in the backyard?

It is always good to let West Virginians know the people working for them are doing their jobs properly, and we can’t fault those who decided to brag a little that they got one right in paying off a loan on time. (Which, to be clear, is not a reduction in costs, but an avoidance of an increase in costs). But given the shellgame that takes place regularly in Charleston, it will also be good to learn the specifics on that $220 million.

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