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Cafe Society to continue discussion of state budget

By Staff | Jan 22, 2016

The Cafe Society will follow its overview of our current state budget issues with a look at possible approaches to resolving disparities between the Eastern Panhandle and southern parts of the state. The next session will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Cafe Society is a part of Shepherd University’s Life Long Learning Program. These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center each Tuesday morning. Pre-registration is not required and there are no fees or charges.

Mike Austin, one of the Cafe Society facilitators commented, “As anticipated, we only managed last Tuesday to frame the discussion of the dilemma’s facing the State Legislature which has begun its annual 60-day session. While local conservative newspapers insist that all possible reductions must be made in current expenditures before even considering raising taxes, there appears to be little choice. The revenue side of the equation is plagued with major losses in primary sectors and there appears to be little or no hope for recovery for a considerable period of time. Meanwhile worker families are struggling. Life style issues including drug dependency and, endemic health problems continue unabated. The hard reality is that many of the coal towns will never recover and essential social, educational, and transportation infrastructure will continue to erode. There is an urgent need for consolidation of public institutions and facilities in counties that have a population of 10,000 or less.”

He added, “Significant new business enterprises like the New Proctor and Gamble facility now under construction are few and far between. The impact of major warehouse and distribution centers like Macy’s is huge, but can’t begin to compensate for losses in the energy and gambling sectors. Even the surge in numbers of personnel enrolled in higher education institutions like the American Public University System will be to no avail unless there is a commensurate rise in demand for their graduates. We badly need some new ideas with significant magnitude in order to exploit the positive aspects of life in beautiful West Virginia. The only problem is, as my father used to say “You can’t eat the view!”

Those with suggestions for future Cafe Society topics or who want more information about the Cafe Society program contact Austin at 304-876-0598 or michael.austin@frontiernet.net.