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Efforts to create jobs will remain priority

Sep. 26, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in contested races in the Nov. 6 general election.

I believe the biggest issue facing West Virginia today is the need to create more good-paying jobs, and that's why I've made fostering a positive business environment the centerpiece of my time as governor. I will continue those efforts over the next four years, as our state capitalizes on its great potential to grow our economy.

In just the past two years that I have served as your governor, we have made great strides toward improving our economy. Despite a tough national economic environment, West Virginia has produced not only balanced budgets but surpluses that have allowed us to increase our Rainy Day Fund and cut taxes for consumers and job creators.

Think about that for a minute. While states around us have piled up debt, raised taxes and reduced services, we have actually cut taxes and added to our savings.

I also believe that during tough times, government must tighten its belt and cut spending, just as families struggling to make ends meet must do. We will not spend more than we have, and that fiscally responsible nature will ensure we continue to be attractive to businesses looking to hire people and avoid tax increases on our hardworking residents.

I know that another key to creating jobs is a strong education system. I am proud to have played a leading role in creating a freestanding community and technical college system that reinforces how vital those institutions are to building our economy.

All of our post-secondary educational facilities understand that we must not only provide outstanding instruction to students, we must be responsive to the needs of our employers. For example, Bridgemont Community and Technical College has partnered with Toyota so that students can spend part of their day taking classes and part of their day putting those lessons in action while earning money for themselves.

I expect this program to be replicated at other locations, so that students can gain marketable skills and employers will know their employees are prepared for the 21st Century jobs being created.

Of course, it's also important that both our students and our workers have environments that are safe and drug-free. That's why I led the way on legislation this year to put new rules and regulations in place at our coal mines to make them safer, and why we are cracking down on pill mills and those who distribute and use illegal drugs.

People who want to receive state training now must pass a drug screening before they can enter the program. We're also working with regional teams to address local issues and improve treatment so those affected by drug use and abuse can again become productive members of society.

We've been able to have these successes -- all passed with wide bipartisan support -- because West Virginia is not like Washington. We reach across the aisle for commonsense solutions and, when necessary, protect our jobs by fighting the EPA's overreaching regulations.

I know there is more work to be done. But I pledge to you that I will work tirelessly -- I will go anywhere, do anything -- to create the jobs our residents want and deserve.

West Virginia is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. I'm proud to help more people do just that in the Mountain State. I respectfully ask for your support on Nov. 6.

Earl Ray Tomblin, of Chapmanville, is the Democratic candidate for West Virginia governor.

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