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‘How bright is our economic future?’ discussed during League of Women Voters forum

By Staff | Sep 20, 2019

From left, Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, shakes hands with Tina Burns, of Leetown, following the forum in the Byrd Center on Sept. 10. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, visited the Robert C. Byrd Center on Sept. 10 to answer the question of his speech title, “West Virginia: How bright is our economic future?”

Boettner’s speech, which was filmed and is now available to watch on the Jefferson County League of Women Voter’s Facebook, gave attendees a two-hour-long glimpse into concerns West Virginia’s residents face, and suggested ideas on how they might be fixed.

“I see some real positive things happening in criminal justice reform. Tax reform, not so much,” Boettner said, mentioning cuts to income taxes. “If you raise taxes to pay for an income tax cut, you’re affecting more people who make less money. You’re giving to the rich, taking from the poor. Tax reform is one of the bigger concerns of mine.”

After talking with one group of people whom are often ignored by politicians — those who don’t vote, Boettner said he realized that a large number of West Virginians are living below the poverty level.

“I’ve asked people across the state who don’t vote, and they say they feel like they can’t get ahead after 40 years of living in West Virginia. It’s the people who don’t vote who make me more concerned, than those who do,” Boettner said. “A lot of the activity I see in the West Virginia Democrat party has to do with marijuana legislation, but I’m more interested in policies that improve the lives of working families.”

According to forum organizer Lyn Widmyer, she learned about Boettner after he spoke at another LWV chapter in Parkersburg.

“I hope [attendees] got a realistic assessment of what the strengths of our state are, and what are the weaknesses. More importantly, I hope they will have learned about some solutions to West Virginia issues,” Widmyer said. “I particularly liked his emphasis on helping working families make it, through childcare credits and healthcare benefits. They are the history of West Virginia, and we need to do that for them.”

For Leetown resident and JC-LWV member Tina Burns, her experience working at Shenandoah Community Health Center has helped her see the need for healthcare reform.

“Fifty-nine percent of our patients are at or under the poverty level. Those who need a specific type of diabetic medication can die from not being able to afford it,” Burns said, mentioning that some of the 61 percent above the poverty level are from Shepherdstown. “We have a lot of Shepherdstown patients who are well above the low-income level.”

To view Boettner’s entire speech and question-and-answer session, visit www.facebook.com/LWV.JCWV/.