There’s a budget crisis in West Virginia, to be sure, but it appears that it is a budget crisis for certain people and not for others. While working West Virginia families are suffering, the new Republican leadership is busy handing out expensive goodies to all their pals in corporate America. The party of the rich is having a party in Charleston, and you are not invited, but you will be paying the tab.
Look at these bills for gas companies as an example. They take away property rights for landowners, allowing drillers to do and take what they want, even in residential areas, and ordinary people will have no recourse. Ordinarily, the companies would have to pay landowners for the rights to do these things, but now they just take at will. Forced pooling legislation that takes your mineral rights and hands them over the gas company involuntarily has also been introduced.
At the same time, the Republicans are considering tax cuts for billionaires, like Bob Murray, who came down to tell the majority he financed with campaign contributions that he’s the one who is hard up. Last year, Bill Cole detailed plans to cut taxes on his own corporations. All of these giveaways will have to be paid for by regular people who are already suffering. But those are the orders the Republican Senators received in Palm Springs, California, from the billionaires who finance their campaigns.
How are we supposed to pay for all the handouts to the Republicans’ rich friends? We’re starting to find out this week. The powerful Republican Finance Chair, Eric Nelson, solicited reports on how many ways there were to take the money Bill Cole and Bob Murray demand for themselves out of ordinary people’s basic services. Now we’re contemplating closing down wings of hospitals, laying off dozens of state troopers in the middle of the drug crisis, slashing funding for education, child care, and other things people desperately need.
So while you’ll hear a lot about “West Virginia feeling the pain,” that means YOU, not them. As we’ve seen in states around the country, time and time again, Republicans promise jobs and a better “business climate,” and so on. But when they get their hands on the keys, the looting of the state starts and it might not end until West Virginia is completely bankrupt. It’s happened before and now it is happening right here. You might not like Democrats, but you simply can’t trust Republicans. They do the same thing every time.
When the Republicans in Charleston aren’t picking our pockets, they’re hiding the ball with total distractions and time-wasters. Pro-discrimination bills, unnecessary gun bills, and calling for religious government all make the list of things the lawmakers are focused on, when what the state needs is to focus on increasing paychecks, job security, and fighting the drug problem. The behavior of the GOP majority has now become a national disgrace. It can’t end soon enough.
We can stop the looting of West Virginia, if we remember in November.