End of the week short takes

–Figures out from the Tax Foundation show that West Virginia collects $1,048 per capita in state income taxes.*   That ranks West Virginia 26th among the states.  Taxpayers in every surrounding state pay more per capita, with Maryland the highest at $2,200.  Our state government will collect an estimated $1.86 billion through personal income taxes this fiscal year, making it the largest source of revenue for the state.

–The state Chamber of Commerce’s Brian Dayton has put together a comprehensive booklet that explains public school teacher pay, benefits and student achievement. One of the key findings is that West Virginia spends $14,274 per student on public education.  That puts West Virginia in the top 15 states for spending per student and is nearly $3,000 above the national average.

–Governor Justice’s claim that he “uncovered waste and abuse” in the state’s RISE WV flood recovery program and, as a result, saved the state $8 million is questionable. The “savings” may be the result of simply not requiring Horne LLC, the contractor hired to help coordinate flood recovery spending, from taking on additional projects.  The Governor’s Office has provided only a vague explanation, which is the pattern now of the Justice administration.

–There are at least four polls out so far in the Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey U.S. Senate race and three of them have Manchin ahead. Global Strategy (Manchin’s polling firm) has Manchin up 50-42, Democratic pollster Hart Research has the race 52-40 in favor of Manchin, and Republican pollster Gravis Marketing has Manchin up 53-40.  Republican pollster WPA Intelligence shows Morrisey in the lead 46-44.

–Speaking of the Manchin-Morrisey race, the New York Times reports that West Virginia will be one of the states where President Trump will campaign for the fall election.  “President Trump is planning to focus his midterm campaigning this summer on red states with competitive Senate races where he has a deep reservoir of support and can bring a message devised to stoke partisan outrage.”  The Times says along with West Virginia, Trump is expected to campaign in North Dakota, Montana, Missouri and Indiana.

–Belated birthday wishes to Jerry West.  The iconic West Virginia native turned 80 this past Monday.  Yes, he is still working. West, who has proven to have one of the best eyes for basketball talent, is now consulting for the Los Angeles Clippers.  West pushed for the controversial trade earlier this season of Clippers star Blake Griffin.  Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider West’s manta: “What’s right isn’t always popular and what’s popular isn’t always right.”

–MetroNews’ Jeff Jenkins reports that the Trump tax cuts are saving Appalachian Power Company, and thus its customers, $235 million.  Appalachian Power Communications Director Jeri Matheney says the utility has proposed to the state Public Service Commission several alternatives for returning the money to the customers.  Most of the proposals include offsetting future rate hikes to keep rates stable for as long as possible.

–And finally, on this day in 1880, Paddy Ryan defeated Joe Goss at Collier’s Station in Brooke County, West Virginia, to win the heavyweight bare-knuckle championship of the United States.  The fight ended when Goss threw in the towel after 87 brutal and bloody rounds.  As the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer reported, “A glance at the faces and bodies of Goss and Ryan showed how terrible had been the punishment, both faces being very much swollen and bruised, and their bodies showed the fearful effect of the powerful muscles of the athletes.”

*(The Tax Foundation figures are from 2015.)

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