CHARLESTON – Gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney says "career politicians" created no jobs in the just-completed legislative session, and he wants Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to explain how that happened.
"As someone who has actually created jobs in West Virginia, I know that without meaningful tax and legal reforms it will be almost impossible to expand our economy," Maloney said in a press release issued Monday. "Our best and brightest continue to leave the state, but Earl Ray Tomblin just presided over an entire legislative session that did nothing to address these fundamental problems.
"How much longer must the people of West Virginia wait for real leadership to help create jobs in our state?"
A spokesman for Tomblin's re-election campaign said Maloney seems to have forgotten a few things.
"Bill Maloney may not have been paying attention but Earl Ray Tomblin's leadership resulted in numerous important bills being passed this session to help grow our economy," Chris Stadelman said Tuesday. "This legislation includes solving the OPEB problem without raising taxes and providing incentives to attract a multi-billion dollar cracker investment.
"Governor Tomblin also led the way during a special session to pass comprehensive Marcellus Shale rules and regulations that allow companies to confidently invest in West Virginia. Bill Maloney opposes incentives to attract businesses to West Virginia and was so concerned about job growth in our state that he let his company's jobs go to Pennsylvania.
"Meanwhile, Governor Tomblin is working with all sides to help retirees and re-open the Century Aluminum plant in Jackson County that will put hundreds of people back to work thanks to the Governor's leadership."
Maloney continued his push Tuesday on statewide radio.
"We need to fix the basic problems, fix our courts, fix our tax system," Maloney said Tuesday on Hoppy Kercheval's "Talkline" show on MetroNews. "It's all about jobs. I counted during this session. We've lost 2,000 jobs. We need to create private-sector jobs. We need to create careers here in West Virginia. You have to be bold and have some vision, and I don't see that.
Maloney's press release said that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, West Virginia has the lowest percentage of people participating in the workforce of any state in the country. And, he noted that for the 10th consecutive year, West Virginia was named a "Judicial Hellhole" by the American Tort Reform Association and was ranked 50th for having the least reasonable and balanced tort liability system. He also said West Virginia has been singled out for high corporate income tax rate, high unemployment tax rate and high property taxes. He said West Virginia was ranked 48th out of 50 states for existing businesses.
Maloney said Tomblin and lawmakers simply aren't focusing on the right issues.
"Serving wine at ballparks, determining who can have exotic pets and allowing liquor tastings at retail stores may seem important to the lobbyists and political insiders, but does nothing to help create new job opportunities for West Virginia families," he said. "It is painfully obvious that Earl Ray is more worried about being re-elected yet again than in doing what is right for West Virginia."
Maloney told Kercheval that the state needs a "comprehensive tort reform package" so that businesses "aren't afraid of being sued and forced out of the state."
"This kind of stuff happens all the time," he said. "If we fixed these issues, we'd get this cracker. And not just by passing this bill that makes us pull down our pants just to get a cracker.
"It's more than tax breaks. We need a climate good for all businesses, not just the big ones who are going to move in. The small businesses need this help more than the Shells of the world. But they're not getting any. ... We need to make it easier for small businesses to start and grow here in West Virginia."