Successful privatization should inspire more reform - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Successful privatization should inspire more reform

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  • OPINIONState Journal EditorialsMore>>

  • Political gains are wasted if health changes don't happen

    Political gains are wasted if health changes don't happen

    Friday, September 12 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-09-12 12:00:30 GMT
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
    West Virginia is the most obese state in the world's most obese nation, according to an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health.
  • Big announcements should spur positive action

    Big announcements should spur positive action

    Friday, September 5 2014 9:50 AM EDT2014-09-05 13:50:45 GMT
    Our state's natural gas industry is growing in amazing ways. Just this week, it was announced that Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources are proposing a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
    Our state's natural gas industry is growing in amazing ways. Just this week, it was announced that Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and AGL Resources are proposing a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to connect the Southeast with natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
  • Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Business community must raise a voice against status quo

    Friday, August 29 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-08-29 13:00:23 GMT
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.

It’s not a stretch to say West Virginia once had the dubious distinction of having the worst workers’ compensation system in the nation.

It was a broken, defunct operation that no one liked. Not only did it not work, but it also dragged down businesses and gave executives serious pause when they considered expanding or opening shop in the Mountain State. In 2005, led by the newly elected Gov. Joe Manchin, our legislative leaders finally said enough and got to work. They didn’t just implement minor reforms, hide behind lengthy studies or retreat into the tired political-speak of “taking a good first step,” they created BrickStreet Mutual Insurance and then did what government should do — got out of the way.

Today, BrickStreet is a success. Take a look at a few of its more important milestones:

It was recently announced workers’ comp premiums will drop by $32 million this year.

Since the company’s inception, it has saved employers in our state more than $280 million.

We’ve had 10 reductions in 10 years.

Workers’ comp fees are nearly 60 percent less than they were 10 years ago.

Quite simply, that’s amazing. Now, other states, including Ohio, are looking to West Virginia as a model of how to make a complicated and complex system work. In a word, this turnaround has been stunning.

When the will is there, this state can do some amazing things. BrickStreet is just one example. We’ve also addressed Other Post Employment Benefits for state employees — a situation that leading economists have described as a ticking time bomb that will one day destroy public finances — we are retiring debt, and, to use a phrase popularized by now-Sen. Manchin, “getting our financial house in order.”

But there remains so much more to be done. We have to continue to modernize our tax code and make this state a place where businesses feel comfortable investing and expanding. In the face of shrinking revenue and more federal mandates, this is certainly going to be a tall order, but our elected leaders in Charleston need to do what’s necessary, not what’s easy. We also need to find ways to ensure our courts put fairness and equality above politics. Again, taking the needed steps to make this happen will be no simple task, but the assurance of justice certainly transcends expediency or ideology. Perhaps most importantly, we need schools that prepare our children and young people for life in the 21st century. Again, this won’t be easy, but we’ve tackled seemingly impossible tasks before. Creating a better West Virginia means stepping up and doing what’s right.