1933 vs 2017

(Please note: Research for this piece came from Herman Guy Kump: A Political Profile by Albert Steven Gatrell.  Governor Kump’s granddaughter gave me the book.)

It is beginning to sounds like our State is facing issues in 2017 similar to 1933. Today one can read in various publications that West Virginia is near a depression.  Governor Justice certainly made it sound like that in his recent State of State address.

I can recall on more than one occasion Governor Underwood (Cecil H) telling me had it not been for Governor Kump (Herman Guy) West Virginia may not have made it through the depression.  I never questioned Cecil but decided now was a good time to look into what Governor Kump faced and how he “saved the state.”

In 1932 West Virginia voters in passed a Tax Limitation Amendment to the State constitution. It was to bring relief to people losing their farms or homes to tax sales.  It placed maximum tax rates on real property and various other taxable items.  This effectively reduced the role of local governments by limiting their taxation authority.  At the time local governments were responsible for public schools, roads, etc.

Governor Kump, not unlike Governor Justice, found declining revenue and money to run State government lacking. The State was nearing bankruptcy. However, Governor Kump had the support of businessmen, legislative leaders of both parties and the state’s lawyers.  That does not appear to be the case for Governor Justice.

Kump, a Democrat had only a few Democratic members of either House who were experienced legislators. Only a handful was serving a third consecutive term in the House, while only three Democratic senators were serving a second term.  Sound familiar Governor Justice?

Kump who only had taken office in March 1933 called an Extraordinary Session of the Legislature in April. He explained that Extraordinary Session was imperative because “Our industries, trade and commerce are facing ruin.  Our public institutions are closing.  Our State is in financial distress.”

Among the other issues of the time Kump had to address funds for schools and roads since the Tax Limitation Amendment had put a limit on local taxation authority. To do so the State took over local roads and had to provide aid to schools.  This brought about the consumer’s sales tax and an income tax.

Governor Kump told the lawmakers to forget politics and remember why the people elected them.   He later called on the people to contact their representatives.  Today Governor Justice is using 21st century communication tools appealing for “the peoples support.”

The Legislature gave Governor Kump powers to reduce salaries, reorganize departments and bureaus, and dismiss staff.   Kump did dismiss staff and reorganized departments (or eliminated them) for economic reasons and he ordered a reduction in pay for state employees.  Generally, the pay reductions were about 25 percent.

These sound about like Governor Justice’s Alternative Budget which cuts spending by $450 million and would eliminate general revenue funding for state colleges and universities, as well as 21 programs and terminates 3,000 state jobs.

Most of Governor Kump’s revenue bill was adopted. It raised funds to provide essential public services and new revenue to aid local schools and local roads.  It replaced revenue lost from old gross sales tax. Industrial and commercial organizations would return to the State that they saved under the Tax Limitation Amendment; retail sales tax and an income tax were imposed; assessed valuations would be reduced if possible.

The fate of Governor Justice’s revenue bill is in the hands of the Legislature and will see how that works out.

You’re encouraged to comment. Just go to bottom of the post…look for Comment or No Comment and click.  Or go to phillipsbillboard.com to comment.

 

 

Gov. Justice Here’s One

Governor Justice is looking for “big ideas”. Here is a middle sized idea.

These ideas could help avoid a tax increase on our state’s residents. Plus help an industry with 7,300 jobs and communities and businesses that depend on the horse racing.

The concept is known as Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW). It is a form of wagering on the outcome of horse or dog races in which the bettor must fund his or her account before being allowed to place bets.

Currently Advance Deposit Wagering is not legal in West Virginia – but is should be. The WV Racing Commission endorsed this idea in a resolution I pushed in 2014.

There are 34 thoroughbred race tracks in the country and 20 states have legalized ADW. By making it legal state government, horse & dog owners and tracks receive a share of the ADW revenues.

The Oregon Racing Commission, which licenses and audits many of the largest firms taking advance deposit wagers, reports that online wagering via its licensed companies rose to $2.9 billion in 2015, from $952 million in 2005.

Nearby Ohio is considering legalizing ADW’s along with other states.

ADW’s opens up a whole new world to assist West Virginia. No longer will anyone wanting to bet on a race at West Virginia’s tracks have to visit at Off Track Betting facility.  West Virginians will not have to drive to the horse or dog tracks to bet.

Just own a computer, smartphone or tablet and an easy chair.   Just think of the market that opens up with ADW’s and the potential benefit to our state.

Here are some bit size ideas.

  • Fantasy sports are all the rage
  • Off Track Betting (OTB) facilities at strategic locations
  • Sports Betting is worth initial study
  • Instant Racing electronic pari-mutuel machines (Could be in OTB facilities)
  • EquiLottery a game combining lottery & horse racing

Should Governor Justice want a really big idea what about Internet gambling. Remember the huge money that came into West Virginia after the Lottery was established and casinos were built – before competition from nearby states?  Only three  states now offer it to their residents.  Likely this will involve working with the Department of Justice and Congress.

This will require a heavy lift by Governor Justice – but if anyone can do it he can.

You’re encouraged to comment.  Just go to bottom of  the post…look for Comment or No Comment and click.

 

History Repeats?

After reading Dan Milbank’s piece this morning I decided it was time for a blog.

My life has been consumed by politics.  As a youngster I passed out Republican literature at the polls (when you could get closer than 300 feet), helped local candidates run for office, started Teenage Republican Clubs and the list goes on.

The motivation was to see a strong two party system.  It appeared that goal was being achieved and long came the internal battle of 1964 – not unlike that underway.  But today it is but even worse.

To see people who are likely registered Republicans stand and cheer when they learned Speaker Boehner “a good man” had resigned is unbelievable (what happen to good manners) on the eve of a presidential election – one that is so important to our nation and the Republican Party.

When will these people come to their senses?  When will civility return?  Soon I hope or Republicans will see the chance of electing a president or governor in our state end up like 1964.

(Please take time to read Dan Milbank’s piece.  Click here.)

Manchin Decides

Before telling West Virginians U. S. Joe Manchin told the nation he will not run for Governor.  He appeared on CBS “Face the Nation” today.

 

A Manchin Dilemma

I am beginning to think about the landscape and strategy for the 2016 campaign as the Republican controlled Legislature begins to wrap up.  Today I found an insightful analysis in Real Clear Politics.  With Senator Joe Manchin deciding which roads to travel in 2016 – stay in the Senate or return to the big house on the Kanawha this is helpful.

This excellent analysis was written by David Byler – a West Virginia native – who is an elections analyst for Real Clear Politics.  This is a must read for anyone about to engage in the 2016 election and is serious about politics in our state – as I am.  Click here to read.

Disgusted

Disgusted is the way I reacted last night after reading a Twitter post about a $100,000 breakfast being organized by a “secretive” and likely “extreme” conservative group.  You must read/click this link to see exactly what is going on.

It is unfortunate the organizers of this $100,000 breakfast have been or are active West Virginia Republicans.  Their efforts send a message to those who work hard for the Republican party and middle class Republicans they are not wanted.  If this type of activity and events continue the West Virginia Republican Party will be branded as the party of the rich.   No political party should exclude anyone.

This is going on while we have Republican legislators trying to raise the ceiling on campaign contributions to what is reasonable in this day and age – and strengthen disclosure requirements. I believe these are good ideas. But even that will not get rid of “dark money” or “dark organizations” holding $100,000 breakfasts or $25,000 dinners.

Why the secrecy and exclusiveness?

Is Manchin Coming Home?

The Associated Press has a story running that Senator Joe Manchin may be coming home.  After last November election results “Joe” may be the best hope for a revived Democratic Party in our State?  Who knows when it comes to Joe?

Click on this link to learn more.

How did I do?

On New Year’s Day 2014 I wrote in my blog about the West Virginia political environment.   Today before I look forward I took a quick look back to see what I missed.

Never did I expect a campaign as messy and mean.   The campaign turned voters off and many Democrats were rethinking their loyalty.   Experience told me Democrats kick in the last 45 days of the campaign – that did not happen.  Democrat leaning special interest groups formed PAC’s to take up the slack.  One could hardly tell the political affiliation of any candidate.  Both Democrat and Republican candidates ran against Obama and everyone was for coal.

Not accounted for was the opportunity for Congresswoman Capito to pull GOP candidates into office when stronger Democrats passed up the U. S. Senate race.  That, plus the low turnout when Democrat Chairman Larry Puccio could not get Democrats to the polls.

In days gone bye you could expect Senator Manchin and Governor Tomblin to reached out to save enough incumbents to save control of the legislature but that did not happen.

On the first day of 2015 my thoughts are not nearly as clear as they were 365 days ago.  I do believe from a purely political standpoint all eyes will be on the coming 60 day session of the Legislature.  I do not know what to make of the coming session.  I expect the newcomers will be surprised at how law making really works and how much demand is placed on them.

With many new members not totally driven by politics…will they have their eyes on legislative accomplishments or the 2016 election?   Old hands will tell you accomplishments must come in 2015 as legislators want to avoid tough votes in an election year (2016).  But my view this new team will be different and want to make change…which they can turn into a new future for our State and votes in November, 2016.

Not to be overlooked is the incoming Senate President Bill Cole has all but announced his candidacy for Governor in 2016.  This will be in play as the Republican legislators begin their new challenge.   Others openly known to be considering entering the Republican primary for Governor are Congressman David McKinley and Attorney General Patrick Morrissey.   One saving grace is party members have not started to choose sides.

As this point I see no leadership among the Democrats in the legislature and certainly not their party.  My guess is they don’t know what to expect or to do.

How did I do?

Pivoting to 2016

After the historic West Virginia election as well as a smashing Republican victory across the nation political junkies and policy wonks like me are pivoting to 2016.  In my case it is the intrigue of the presidential contest and the adjustment both parties will need to make to attract voters.

“How the GOP Can Court the Working Class” and “Delusions of the Democrats” may provide the answer to policy adjustments.  Beyond that Republicans focusing on the “working class” does not seem like a bad idea to me.  I thought it was interesting to read about today’s Democratic Party being “scared of its own shadow.”

These came from the Sunday Review in the New York Times.  For those interested below are links to read in detail what you might hear from the political parties over the next few months.

“How the GOP Can Court the Working Class” was written by David Leonhardt, editor of The Upshot, a New York Time politics and policy venture.

“Delusions of the Democrats” is an opinion by Kevin Baker, an essayist and author of the historical novel “The Big Crowd.”

Realistic View

(Editor’s Note:  The commentary below came as an email from Bob Harris.  I thought it was powerful and should be shared.  Mr. Harris grew up in Charleston where his father was editor of The Charleston Gazette and later Chief of Staff to Senator Jennings Randolph.  Bob Harris is based in Washington with extensive knowledge of government and politics.  He is principal in the firm of Hutter & Harris.)

Thanks for your thoughtful comments in your Final Look.

It is a very bleak look.  We are one day away from an election, but does anyone really know what this election is about.  Most elections are about the future, this election cannot be — I hope!!  If that is the case, the future is not bright at all!!

My mentors in politics and government were my father and Senator Randolph.  They taught me when it was time to be partisan and when it was time to roll up your sleeves and go to work.  I so often recall — fondly — the Senator taking me aside when I was a page and giving my first real lesson in bi-partisanship.  I recall him taking me to a desk off the center aisle of the Senate Chamber and telling me that that aisle divided political parties, not people — people crossed that line every day when it was necessary for the betterment of the country and their states.

Today, bi-partisanship is demonstrated only by Members sitting together at a State of Union address.  In between, Senators and House Members line up to campaign against their colleagues, to cut ads in another Members state, to host fundraisers for the opponent of another Member and more!!  Then, they come back to Washington and talk about working together, which cannot because they cannot trust each other…

Trust has gone…

And, so has the American people’s trust in their government.

Why, you ask?  Because it is pounded into our heads each day by the rancor of on-line reports (many, many, many unsubstantiated or ever false), by misleading press reports (both liberal and conservative) and by name-calling all over the internet, radio and television.

Today, we have the networks (Fox on one side, MSNBC on the other and all those somewhere in between) setting up the narrative of the election.  But, more importantly, the day-to-day inner workings of the government.  We see news on Fox we do not see on another network, we see news on MSNBC we see on no other network.  Worst of all, it comes from those reports from the rotunda of the Cannon or Russell Buildings as Members throw themselves in front of the all day parade of cable tv shows to complain about someone else, never talking about what is good about American or how we can make America a better place.  America is falling apart and it is always someone else’s fault.

I was in West Virginia this past weekend for the football game, the ads are everywhere.  When I left, I thought Barack Obama was the President of a country other than the one in which I live.  He is responsible for everything, even for stripping our rights!!

I am now back at my desk, awaiting the election tomorrow.  And, after that I will be here, watching the lamest of Lame Ducks.  Shortly after the New Year a new Congress will begin; the House and Senate will organize and we will be begin the 2016 election cycle.

Members will call each other names, accuse members of the “other party” of being anything but American, and block legislation sponsored by anyone from that other party.  They will do all that in the span of a 3 day work week and in between we will watch Members line-up to sponsor fundraisers and campaign against the colleagues!!