Special Session, Sales tax, and Robin Capehart's new course schedule.
Let's go with the big issue first.
State employee pay raises. After judges, magistrates, and family court judges just got nice FAT raises (some in the neighborhood of 50% of their previous salary) last spring, the rest of the state employees get to pick over the leftover scraps of the state budget, for their first raise, since a gallon of gas was half the price is it now (roughly five years ago, if I remember correctly). Papa Joe Cheerleader has come forth with a whopping 900 dollar per year raise. Wow. That will ALMOST cover the public employees' raises in health care premiums that are set to rise TWICE in the next 10 months, AND the increased cost of utilities, and gas. If a state employee manages to come out of the next 10 months, with the same, or more, take-home pay in their paycheck than they have today, they should count themselves extremely lucky. Forgetting the increased deductions on the immediate horizon, that 900 bucks will equal about an extra 25 bucks per paycheck that goes into the employee's pocket (after withholding). That's a 31 cent per hour raise. Once every five years. That equals a 6 cents per hour raise, per year (if I'm incorrect, and they had a raise four years ago, it would be about 8 cents per hour - but we'll just continue to use 5 as the basis). It would take 17 years to raise your salary by a dollar an hour. Just think, by the time a state employee's kid is almost ready to graduate from high school, Daddy will be taking home a whole dollar per hour MORE than he did when Junior was born.
Hell, I worked at a grocery store as a kid, doing a job that a brain dead monkey can do, and got more of a regular raise than 6 cents per year. And that was a loooooooooooong time ago. Hell, if my employer offered me an extra 25 bucks per check, after my first five years of work, I'd just tell him "No thanks. If that's all you can afford to give me as a raise, once every five years, you need it more than I do." 25 bucks a paycheck once every five years, is in a word, insulting.
Only in West Virginia, can the politicians slap themselves silly on their backs and call a small deduction a "raise," in the sense that it wasn't actually a bigger deduction. And on top of that, Senator John Unger and the other eastern panhandle jackasses, want to ram through locality pay for the eastern panhandle employees next regular session? You have GOT to be kidding me.
Sure, teachers, troopers, prison guards, and child case workers got a 1350$ per year raise. And the teachers got some increased longevity pay scale. According to Papa Joe, all this is because he did a full evaluation of all the salaries, and determined that those positions were more underpaid. Or something. And, the teachers got some sort of mythical promise or something, about future raises. Yay. Whoopee. Call out the Brink's trucks. The state employees will have to use them to lug their one extra roll of quarters and one extra roll of dimes home every 2 weeks.
Ok, on to the next topic. And it won't be near as long. Sales tax on food.
Papa Joe wants to roll it on back to 5% so he can say he lowered the food tax, supposedly with the idea that it can gradually be phased out. The republicans, like Slick Vic Sprouse, want to eliminate it. Like yesterday. Because its regressive. Oh, the horror. They are right. It is regressive. It hits the poor, the people the least able to afford food in the first place, the hardest. Please, let's do away with this horrible, horrible, regressive tax. You've heard that non-stop from every republican (and some democrats, who actually are republicans, if the truth were known). Slick Vic, Robin Capehart (more about him below), Charlie "Cokeglasses" Trump, and a plethora of others have done nothing but harp on the sales tax's horrendous regressive nature for the last 2 weeks as the chief reason to kill it.
Fine. Do away with it. Kill it dead. And since it was so regressive, and republicans are obviously against regressive taxes, let's jack the personal income rates up on the highest income earners. That certainly would be the epitome of the anti-regressive tax. You make more, therefore you can afford to pay at an even higher rate than now. So, I'm guessing Slick Vic and company would be first in line to sign on the dotted line for that bill, right?
Unless all their harping about the food tax being regressive was simple demagoguery. Sadly, when any of these bozos are on Hoppy's show (MetroNews Talkline), or Chicago Furlip's show (58Live), neither of hosts are smart enough (or honest enough, or both) to ask them about that, and most of them are too chicken to even go on Jerry Waters' show.
The only thing more disgusting than the republicans' demagoguery on this issue, is the democrats' fear of being voted out of office for showing some spine and standing up to them.
Last item. Back in the spring, I posted about Robin (I refuse to call him "Rob") Capehart and his new job as head of the republican party. I also posted about how he seemed to be on the talk radio circuit when he should have been teaching his classes at Marshall University. Well, he was on the talk show circuit again today, and with classes back in session, I did a little check. It appears all his classes, except one (a 2:30 to 3:45pm M-W class or something like that), are now night classes. He can now pretty much blabber on the airwaves with impunity, and not be accused of snatching a state paycheck while he's out being the chief republican mouthpiece. Good for him. It will now be interesting to see how many Republican meetings and dinners and parties and gatherings he manages to make it to in the evenings, though.