PARKERSBURG - Fundamental reforms in the tax structure are among the changes needed to foster economic growth in West Virginia, the state attorney general said Wednesday.
West Virginia can't rely on a few single industries and has to take action now for when when federal funds stop coming, said Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. About 36 percent of the state budget is through federal funds, he said.
"No one can expect that to continue," Morrisey, a first-term Republican.
Morrisey was in Parkersburg Wednesday for a town hall meeting to discuss ways to encourage economic development and job creation.
Besides changes in the business, corporate and personal tax structures, West Virginia also has to reduce regulatory burdens, improve educational standards and meet those standards, change its image as the "judicial hellhole" for a court system unfairly skewed against business and expound the advantages already here, particularly as an energy producing state.
While the office of the attorney general is limited, it can do its part to show business it will oppose "onerous" regulations, he said. Case in point is the Environmental Protection Agency's latest emission standards for coal-fired power plants based on technology not commercially available, Morrisey said.
At A Glance
* Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, defeated Darrell McGraw in 2012 for attorney general.
The agency in September proposed the emission requirements that basically require new plants that would burn coal to meet the same standards as the cleaner-burning natural gas. The changes are part of President Obama's climate control initiatives.
Opposing regulatory over reach can encourage business to develop in West Virginia, Morrisey said.
Not one issue or one office in government is the only solution, Morrisey said.
Illegal narcotics and prescription drug abuse is another job-related issue, Morrisey said. West Virginia has among the highest rates of prescription drug abuse deaths in the nation,
Morrisey established a small task force in the attorney general's office to address prescription drug issues and how to work with other agencies.
"It's only five people, but it's more than we had before," he said.