Archive for the ‘Bill’s Blog’ Category

1933 vs 2017

Tuesday, February 21st, 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

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

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?

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

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.)

Disgusted

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

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?

How did I do?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

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?

Final Look

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The 2014 election cycle is the first in which I have not been actively involved at some level in years.  What a mess it has been to observe and I am certain readers have seen the same.

There has been so much money with some of it questionable, too many untruthful ads and organizations formed to destroy candidates.  Loyalty was out the window and candidates recruited with the hope of increasing the governing numbers with little understanding of what it means to serve.

My fear is this election will end up discouraging not only voters but anyone just getting interested in government (politics) from even thinking about volunteering – let alone running for office in the future.

Another concern is the increase cost to run for office.  The observations above are driving the huge costs.  Previously the cost of running for the legislature or local office was minimal.  Now it’s not only costly, but mean.

Where did all this meanness come from?  Who started it and why?

I feel it is driven by a new culture of those leading political parties, campaign consultants and outside groups.  Tomorrow we will learn if money and meanness worked.

My final look did not see a campaign that revealed a new course for West Virginia.  It was all about power, control and coal.

After this election I would encourage my Republican and Democrat friends to work for a new culture in their party and join together to chart a new path for West Virginia’s future.

Running

Friday, August 1st, 2014

(Full disclosure:  I am a member of the WV Racing Commission.  The views expressed here are strictly my personal ones).

There is nothing as exciting as horse racing.  Saturday will be the 45th running of the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.  What a better time to take a look at this day and the impact the racing industry has on our State.

First, there will be horses from the 2014 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands along with nationally known stakes and Triple Crown winning jockeys.  119 horses (including “also eligible”) will make up a nine card program.

West Virginia native Brereton C. Jones is the breeder of Divine View who will start from post position seven in the Derby.  Jones is a former resident of Point Pleasant who entered the Thoroughbred breeding business and went on to become Governor of Kentucky.  It will be exciting to have him back home.

Saturday’s race is not the only exciting thing about horse racing.  The Thoroughbred and Greyhound industries have a significant impact on West Virginia’s economy.  A study conducted by the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University documented the 2012 impact.

The study found more than $321 million in total business volume was contributed to the state economy.  The industries support more than 7,300 jobs and generated more than $100 million in total employee compensation.  State tax revenue generate from racing is $4.6 million.  The researchers made note that this does not include the spillover effect on other industries.

Like other sections of our economy the racing industry is not without its problems.  Purse funds have been dwindling due various cuts in supporting funds and new competition casinos are confronting.   Lottery revenues which impact racing were down from peak of $1.56 in 2006-07 to $1.21 billion for 2013-14 budget year.  The Charleston Gazette reported the number of casino machines in use was 7,354 dropping 53 percent from the maximum of 13,900.

Efforts need to be made in both the lottery and racing industries to look for new ideas to increase revenue to help state leaders avoid even thinking about a taxpayer increase.

If you cannot make it to Mountaineer on Saturday join the live one-hour telecast on Fox Sports Network (FSN) that begins at 5 p.m.

There is another exciting West Virginia racing opportunity at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on October 18th when the West Virginia Breeders’ Classics will be run.

Lottery Revenue vs. More Taxes

Monday, July 14th, 2014

A new opportunity for the Lottery industry and horse racing became public last week.  EquiLottery a Kentucky based company has developed an innovative horse racing and lottery game.

Just last month I wrote with Lottery revenue continuing to decline I would assume the WV Lottery has a “think tank” to look for and assess new ideas and concepts.  Well here is one.

EquiLottery connects the results of live horse races to the lottery experience, while providing a social element many lottery games currently lack.  EquiLottery racetracks could become the focus of horseplayers around the world.

Studies were conducted by Gaming Laboratories International forecasts in the first year of implementation EquiLottery will perform around 3-4% of the lottery’s current annual revenue.

EquiLottery says the game would allow lottery players to participate in the same wagering pools as horseplayers, with the game promising to create dynamic payout for lottery and horseplayers while keeping in line with the legislative and financial realities of international lottery corporations.

Brad Cummings, EquiLottery President & CEO wants to increase exposure of horseracing and develop new fans but he made it clear that lotteries also need ample incentive to incorporate new games into their corporate strategies.  He said this comes at a time when both racing and lottery industries are looking for ways to adapt to the evolving market place.

To assist lottery “think tankers” or my readers here is a website link for EquiLottery.

This leads me back to the need to generate new lottery revenue in West Virginia.  Lottery revenue provides funds for various services.  Without it a state tax increase may be required.

Let’s hope Lottery leaders and others take a look at this new idea.

Have We Learned?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

An earthquake hit the Republican Party last night.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) was defeated  by a Tea Party challenger.  This will fuel Tea Party types with the real impact hitting in 2015 and 2016 as battle for the Republican nomination moves into full gear.

I just hope this is realized by all Republicans not just insiders.  The consequence will be significant as we enter the contest to select a 2016 Republican presidential nominee.

Every day Republicans not active in the party must get involved immediately if we are to nominate a presidential candidate who can get elected.  Otherwise, let’s just crown Hillary Clinton.

This cannot wait until the excitement of a campaign.  Anyone who follows politics will recall the movement to nominate Barry Goldwater in 1964 started well before that year.  F. Clifton White was organizing, recruiting and taking control of Republican Party machinery at the local level.  This is well document in his book Suite 3505.

That year regular Republicans waited too long and the battle ensured.  Throughout the spring and summer of 1964 there was blood on the floor everywhere you looked.  At the last minute even former President Dwight Eisenhower got involved trying to save the Republican Party from itself.  We all know how 1964 turned out!

In West Virginia control of the party has been underway for some time by Tea Party believers.   Our representatives to the Republican National Committee are Tea Party in their heart.  The State Chairman is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.   Following the May election when new county GOP committee members were elected the same is taking place as committees reorganize.

This take over extends even to selecting a Congressman to replace Shelley Moore Captio in the 2nd District.  Not only has the Tea Party prevailed there but it was done with a Maryland resident coming across our state line.

Eric Cantor is a conservative Republican but not obviously to the extent liked by the extremists.

Extremism cannot win in 2016 get involved now – don’t wait until it’s too late.

 

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

 

Why Not?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Revenue in our State is needed as badly as pothole filling.  The legislature faced with trying to find funds to restore “people” services in its recent special session had to move money from one account to another.  No one can argue about funding badly needed social services.

Beyond that Phil Kabler, Statehouse Reporter for The Charleston Gazette, reported last week that Lottery revenues are expected to be down about $100 million from 2012-13 and some $360 million below the Lottery’s record revenue of $1.56 billion in 2006-07.  The report said Lottery is expected to have had about $1.2 billion of revenue for the current fiscal year which ends June 30.

The time has come to look at new ideas to generate revenue without putting an additional burden on state taxpayers.  I wrote about this in February and offered what I am certain are controversial ideas related to gambling.  Here is a link if you did not read my February blog.

The beauty about new ideas to generate money from internet gaming, taxing Advance Deposit Wagering, offering Instant Racing and other ideas is most funds – reaching our state coffers – will come from out of state or around the world.  That could be a road map to avoid a tax increase on our citizens,  which could surely come if revenue from outside our boarders is not tapped.

Remember the huge money that came into West Virginia after the Lottery was established and casinos were built?  Yes, that is drying up because of competition from nearby states.  Well only three states now offer internet gaming.

With Lottery revenue continuing to decline it could be assumed they have a “think tank” looking at new revenue generating programs brought on by the growth of technology in their industry.  Likely the operating casinos and the state’s horseman are doing the same thing.  Let’s get the ideas from these organizations, our citizens, state officials and others on the table now.  Work should begin on these and other ideas long before the 2015 legislative session.

Why not?