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Kevin Craig: Craig stresses jobs, families, education

Oct. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

I have the honor and privilege of representing the counties of Cabell and Lincoln in the West Virginia House of Delegates. The voters have given me this opportunity since the election of 2000 and I am as excited to serve now as I was then.

I continue to focus on three pillars that I use to guide me as I work to improve our area and state: jobs, families and education. I believe each represent a leg on a three-legged stool, and each are critical to the ultimate success of our great state.

We have made great strides in West Virginia since 2000. We have lowered taxes, by reducing the food tax, the business franchise tax and the corporate net income tax. The Legislature gave low-income families a tax credit and doubled the property tax credit for senior citizens. We also eliminated the state privilege tax on automobiles.

At the same time the legislature was lowering taxes we paid down our long-term liabilities and totally overhauled our workers' compensation system, which was on the verge of insolvency. By reducing our debts and being fiscally responsible, we have lifted a great burden off of future generations of West Virginians and put our state in the top-5 states in the nation with regard to financial stability. All this while at the same time we improved the economic development outlook by lowering taxes.

We must remain committed to providing a well educated and trained workforce to meet the challenges of a modern economy that includes leading the nation in providing affordable energy to our great country. In our communities we are fortunate to have Marshall University and Mountwest Community and Technical College. These institutions of higher learning, along with other post-secondary educational providers, are key to our ability to capitalize on our advantage of having access to affordable energy. With a well-trained workforce and research facilities, we should be leading the nation in advancing new ways to produce our natural resources.

We have worked across party lines to make sure the Marshall Medical School, Engineering Program, new Pharmacy School and "Bucks for Brains" received the necessary funding to make them possible.

Since 2005, West Virginia has seen $19 billion in new business investments. West Virginia had the third most improved median household income during the most recent three years and is one of only five states in the nation that saw an improvement at all. Much of the gains in income can be attributed to the above average wages that are paid by the energy producers in our state. Coal remains the backbone of our economy and natural gas is growing rapidly.

I remain dedicated to working to create jobs in our area. Quality jobs direction impacts our families and our ability to raise our families in West Virginia. I believe we have a great opportunity to grow our economy in manufacturing, energy production and medicine. Working together with business, our leaders in education and the regulatory community, I will work tirelessly to see that we are providing quality educational opportunities so that employers can find the well-trained and prepared workforce they need to be successful. Regulators must be partners, not inhibitors, to growth. We need to stop the endless regulation that is strangling our economy and become united in our efforts to create the jobs so necessary for the success of the citizens of West Virginia.

Economic development and jobs are what will make are state stand out from other states in the union. We have taken the steps to improve our business climate through fiscal responsibility, reform of workers' compensation and reduction of numerous taxes. I am proud to say that I have remained steadfast in my support of jobs, families and education as they are the backbone of our society. We need strong and experienced leadership in the Legislature that is willing to put our state first. I am proud of the progress we have made, but much remains to be done during this most difficult economic time in our country. I will work and lead in the Legislature to see that we protect our jobs, families and educational opportunities.

Kevin Craig, a resident of Huntington, is a Democratic candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 16th District.

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