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Economic Train Wreck in Southwest Virginia in 2010?

by Lewis Loflin

To quote the Bristol Herald Courier January 31, 2010 on the double train wreck heading for this region utterly dependant on welfare and pork-barrel spending:

(State Senator William) Wampler said that without raising taxes, legislators must cover the deficit by almost doubling the $2 billion in spending cuts Gov. Kaine proposed in December. The bulk of the cuts Kaine proposed were in education and Medicaid services...($4.2 billion total)...

American Electric Power has been the sole power provider to almost all of Southwest Virginia's residents since the state re-regulated its energy utilities in 2007. This hasn't been an easy relationship for many of the region's lawmakers. "I've been at battle with AEP since 2006," Delegate Bill Carrico, R-Galax. (He estimates a 84 percent over the past five years, others 60% in two years.)

...a lot of the controversy surrounding utility rates is being fueled by an abnormally cold winter plaguing the region with multiple snow storms and record-breaking cold snaps. The problems are made worse when a home isn't properly insulated or its heating and cooling equipment is inefficient or improperly maintained...steps taken to keep up with increased costs of fuel or environmental regulation are behind more than half of this year's (2009) 23 percent rate increase.

Building AEP's John Amos coal-fired power plant outside of Charleston, W.Va., cost about $800 million, Burns said. And the company had to spend $1.5 billion from 2006-08 outfitting that plant with chemical scrubbers so it could comply with new federal regulations...

No doubt all that "abnormally cold winter" is caused by global warming. But cuts in services won't slow down corporate welfare or government waste in an area already riddled with political corruption:

Increasing the Major Business Facility Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000. (They don't allow public monitoring for compliance.)

Reducing the number of jobs a new facility must create to qualify for that credit from 100 to 50 and from 50 to 25 if the business is in an economically distressed area. (Most of them never meet the goals now, but they refuse to get the funds back so this will fix that little legal issue.)

Requiring the state to issue 15 percent of its contracts to small, women and minority-owned businesses in poor non-metropolitan areas with high unemployment rates. (In other words more backroom deals and more Progressive racism. We need to get away from this kind of economy based on government contracts and the political corruption it causes.)

Allowing the governor's development opportunity fund to give projects in a central city or urban core grants of up to $2 million. (More corporate welfare, why not hire some police and clean up the crime?)

Requiring the state government to create a directory of heritage tourism sites. (After spending millions on tourism development they have nothing to show for it. They can't document a single new private sector job.)

In other words the Republicans are back in power and we are back to the same old nonsense. It's vital this region develop a real economy and stop acting like a third-world basket case groveling for more welfare and transfer payments.

Where are the Republicans going to get the money for all this corporate welfare if the state is nearly bankrupt? Posted February 5, 2010.