Governor Jim Justice has bragged recently about job growth and the budget surplus our state has enjoyed. But low-paying jobs and temporary jobs from pipeline construction and natural gas only provide a quick boost to our economy. It’s like drinking a Monster Energy drink when you’re sick and tired, instead of taking care of yourself. The overall symptoms of the state's problems continue to grow worse.
In Clay County, this was made evident last month by the closing of the only grocery store in the county. Now, for many Clay County residents the nearest real grocery store is a 20- to 40-minute drive away. They’re stuck with options like Dollar General, which provide nothing but processed food, often at higher costs than supermarkets.
Sure it’s great to have a budget surplus, and an increase in jobs. But if folks can't buy what they need, how long will they stay in the Mountain State?
Our leaders should try to create the type of business growth that preserves our West Virginia way of life. They should work to create jobs and preserve essential services communities need the most.
What if instead of giving a $60 million tax break to coal companies, leaders gave tax incentives to struggling local grocery store operators in areas at risk of becoming food deserts, to help them to keep their doors open?
Now, that would be a real hand up to the people of West Virginia.
IMAGE: Tim Mossholder, unsplash.com