Maloney hopes for brighter future in WV - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Maloney hopes for brighter future in WV

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Running for governor twice taught Bill Maloney a few things.

And although he lost to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in both the 2011 special election and 2012 general election, Maloney is still optimistic about West Virginia's future.

Maloney and his wife, Sharon, have launched a think tank dubbed Center for a Brighter Future.

Maloney said the organization will work to study four issues and develop recommendations that will be presented to the West Virginia Legislature at the beginning of the 2014 session. And while think tanks aren't necessarily noted for their action, Maloney said he's not the type to sit aside and do nothing.

"One thing is we don't want to just do studies," Maloney said. "We want to get things done. (Board member) Pat (Esposito) and I are both results-oriented guys. Probably our biggest challenge politically will be getting these things done, but we're going to try our best and make it as simple as we can to get these things done."

The think tank will study energy issues, taxes, ethics and healthy lifestyles. Maloney said similar organizations have popped up in other states, and Center for a Brighter Future will study those best practices to determine what will work effectively in West Virginia.

"We want to have some things that are simple, that we know can get done," Maloney said.

And it's a bipartisan effort. Although Maloney ran for governor as a Republican, he didn't hesitate to team up with some Democrats to form this initiative. For example, Esposito is a lifelong Democrat from Logan County. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also has voiced his support.

Esposito said he thinks the initiative's goals appeal to everyone, no matter political affiliation or ideology.

"With Bill's leadership, you'll see people from all sectors and all walks wanting to participate," Esposito said.

One of the first issues the think tank will study is energy. Maloney noted the state's abundance of resources, from coal to natural gas, but the tax and regulatory climate means the state isn't taking full advantage of those resources. Esposito hopes to use his experience in the energy industry to improve the energy climate in the Mountain State. He was named in 2001 by Gov. Bob Wise to a task force looking at the state's energy future.

"You want to make it flexible enough and vibrant enough that you don't have to reinvent the wheel," Esposito said.

And that's the goal of the think tank: to adopt recommendations that can be implemented now or at any point in the future. Maloney said one challenge is that people tend to look at things in finite time periods — one year, five years or, for elected officials, four years.

"We want to come up with recommendations that can be implemented tomorrow but are resilient enough (to last)," Maloney said.

Maloney officially launched Center for a Brighter Future at an event May 29. It mirrors his 2012 campaign platform, Blueprint for a Brighter Future. But while the ideas have been established for some time, the think tank is just getting off the ground.

"For right now we don't have any paid staff," Maloney said. "I'm it, as far as volunteers. We have a little office in Morgantown set up."

Maloney said he hopes to use that strategic location to branch out and get other states involved. His goal is to make the think tank more regional, noting surrounding states have similar challenges.

"The initiatives and the opportunities don't stop at the border," Esposito said, adding he hopes states can work collaboratively to address and fix some of the issues.

As for his future in politics, Maloney said he's not thinking that far ahead. The next gubernatorial election is scheduled for 2016.

"I can't think that far ahead," Maloney said of the 2016 election. "I know people are supportive of me. I just cannot do it. I feel like the best use of my time is doing what I am with the center. Sharon and I can make a difference.

"If you live your life to make a difference, good things happen," he added. "We feel very good about what we're doing here right now."

But Maloney is using some of his experience and connections made on the campaign trail in building the think tank and developing ideas. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came to West Virginia during the 2012 election to support Maloney. The two discussed ethics reform possibilities based on a Louisiana State University study. While hiking with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Maloney learned of that state's changes to its tax codes, which were brought about by a study done by Arthur Laffer, an economist in the Reagan administration. Laffer soon will conduct a similar study in West Virginia.
Esposito said he's excited about the possibilities and the center's future.

"I think with that leadership that Bill exhibits, he's approaching this differently, .. coming up with best practices … and getting both sides of the aisle ready to participate and move forward," Esposito said. "I'm excited about working with Bill."

For information on Center for a Brighter Future, visit cfabf.org, Twitter or Facebook.