Improved economy will bring better roads - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Improved economy will bring better roads

Posted: Updated:
Steve Roberts Steve Roberts
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:33 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:33:21 GMT
    Joe Collins is arrested on murder chargesJoe Collins is arrested on murder charges
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
  • Update: Names Released in Deadly Crash in McDowell County

    Update: Names Released in Deadly Crash in McDowell County

    Monday, September 1 2014 5:32 PM EDT2014-09-01 21:32:51 GMT
    Fatal Car Accident in McDowell CountyFatal Car Accident in McDowell County
    Two people were killed in a car crash Sunday, August 31. Troopers at the Princeton detachment of the West Virginia State Police said three people were traveling from Cheers in Princeton back home to Northfork when they crashed on Route 52 near Switchback. One man and one woman were killed and one man was sent to Bluefield Medical Center. Troopers told us in a statement made by the survivor, the man said the driver was drunk and driving too fast on wet roads when they lost control of the car.T...
    Two people were killed in a car crash Sunday, August 31. Troopers at the Princeton detachment of the West Virginia State Police said three people were traveling from Cheers in Princeton back home to Northfork when they crashed on Route 52 near Switchback. One man and one woman were killed and one man was sent to Bluefield Medical Center. Troopers told us in a statement made by the survivor, the man said the driver was drunk and driving too fast on wet roads when they lost control of the car.T...
  • UPDATE: Power Restored to Over 400 in Raleigh County

    UPDATE: Power Restored to Over 400 in Raleigh County

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:33:12 GMT
    Emergency crews are responding to a downed tree on the 300 block of Stovall Road in Glen Morgan Monday (9/1) morning.
    Emergency crews are responding to a downed tree on the 300 block of Stovall Road in Glen Morgan Monday (9/1) morning.
  • ColumnsMore>>

  • Hydraulic fracturing could improve geothermal energy

    Hydraulic fracturing could improve geothermal energy

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:00:21 GMT
    A recent issue of The Economist had an article titled “Geothermal Energy, Hot Rocks, Why Geothermal Is the New Fracking.” The month before, a New York Times article titled, “Geothermal Industry Grows, With Help from Oil and Gas Drilling.”
    A recent issue of The Economist had an article titled “Geothermal Energy, Hot Rocks, Why Geothermal Is the New Fracking.” The month before, a New York Times article titled, “Geothermal Industry Grows, With Help from Oil and Gas Drilling.”
  • Changes to the oil, gas industry create benefits, concern

    Changes to the oil, gas industry create benefits, concern

    Sunday, August 31 2014 4:00 PM EDT2014-08-31 20:00:17 GMT
    Robert N. Hart
    Robert N. Hart
  • Dislike of slimy, spicy, stringy foods doesn't make one picky

    Dislike of slimy, spicy, stringy foods doesn't make one picky

    Sunday, August 31 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-08-31 10:00:13 GMT
    I like to think of myself as a broad-minded person, open to new adventures, ready for anything that comes my way. This is especially true with food. I love to eat; I love to cook. So I was bowled over when a friend said to me, “You're a very picky eater.”
    I like to think of myself as a broad-minded person, open to new adventures, ready for anything that comes my way. This is especially true with food. I love to eat; I love to cook. So I was bowled over when a friend said to me, “You're a very picky eater.”

Steve Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce strongly believes West Virginia's future is tied closely to education enhancement, improving our jobs climate and the continued improvement of our infrastructure, primarily the maintenance and construction of our vitally important highway system. Without a quality transportation system, our quality of life is severely limited.

During the past year, the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways has sought out alternatives to the escalating cost of maintaining and further developing the state's 36,000 miles of state highways, which is the sixth largest state highway system in the nation.

Despite the very apparent need for significant improvements to our transportation system, the Chamber is understandably reluctant to support multiple new fees and taxes on the working men and women of the Mountain State. Frankly, we view permanent new fees and taxes as only a last resort to be considered, and then, only if broad public support exists for increasing fees and taxes.  In the near term, the Chamber sees serious and immediate concerns. Just as every family must prioritize its spending needs, West Virginia must prioritize and address its most urgent needs with an eye toward creativity, innovation, and in relation to the means employed by neighboring states.

The West Virginia Chamber's long-term solution to this critical issue is, simple as it sounds, to grow the economy, which will create more revenue for all West Virginians. State businesses are the engines of job creation, but sadly, West Virginia ranks last in the nation in the percentage of our population that currently works at a job.  The revenue needed to improve our highway system will come as the economy grows and new jobs are created.

What will it take for our state's economy to grow? The list of solutions is not long, but the status quo cannot be maintained. We need to be bold in developing an improved education and worker preparedness system, ensure everyone a fair legal system and develop a competitive tax structure. Also, we must confront the issue of paying realistic wages for government-funded projects like highways.  According to a former chief economist with the U.S. Department of Labor, a "flag man" on a public project in rural West Virginia is paid $37 per hour plus fringe benefits. This unreasonable wage rate is not only shocking but certainly has an impact on the number of schools that can be built and the miles of highways that can be maintained and constructed in the state. A West Virginia University study suggests West Virginia's wage rates cost state taxpayers 30 percent more in road building expenditures.

Lastly, West Virginia must have a reasonable regulatory climate for businesses to operate and create more jobs. Our two Democratic U.S. senators must undertake the task of finding a way to assist President Obama's EPA to promulgate regulations that assist people who need lower utility bills and jobs, instead of higher costs and fewer jobs.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is on record saying he'll reserve judgment on the recommendations of his Blue Ribbon Commission until he receives its final report. The governor has done an excellent job of confronting the state's indebtedness and should continue to search for additional ways to address the critical highway funding issue without numerous new fees and taxes.

Growing the economy by discarding the status quo and taking bold steps to make West Virginia more competitive will create new revenue and new jobs. What will follow is a competitive business climate that will provide what is needed to develop a new education system, improved highway system, and a better quality of life for all West Virginians.