Let’s Make West Virginia More Competitive!

New Year, New Policies

As the calendar nears its annual turnover, the Cardinal Institute will be turning its attention to new endeavors as well. While education will continue to be a major priority for us, the fact remains that West Virginia has many more mountaintops of policy reform that must be summited before the state can finally put its past, well, in the past. These reforms will make West Virginia more competitive and a better place for Mountaineers to live out their own version of #AlmostHeaven.

It should also be said that Cardinal will be looking for ways to improve the lot of our fellow West Virginians that are, perhaps, not best addressed through public policy reforms or education campaigns. As you know quite well, West Virginia’s society is suffering in ways that require a healthy, robust, civil society. Cardinal intends to be a part of the civic solution as well.

To be clear, this will be a departure for a traditional think tank, but Cardinal has always been most interested in bettering lives, thus requiring us to think outside the box in a search for solutions. We hope to successfully combine the best parts of a think tank with what we like to call a “do tank.” Stay tuned – more details to come on that front.


Reform Certificate of Need Laws

In the more traditional public policy space, it’s well known that Cardinal is quite interested in the abolition of West Virginia’s disastrous certificate-of-need (CON) process. CON laws hamper innovation, healthcare access, and healthcare entrepreneurship. We have already begun educating West Virginians on the CON process, but you can expect to see much, much more in the coming months.


Reform Anti-Competitive Boards & Commissions

We are also deeply invested in reforming the occupational licensing regime in West Virginia. Believe it or not, West Virginia has north of 200 boards and commissions regulating enterprising West Virginians. This is often for the benefit of competitors who comprise many of these boards and commissions. West Virginia cannot hope to become an economic powerhouse until we reform, abolish, or provide oversight for these anticompetitive boards.


Help Entrepreneurs Innovate

The regulatory sandbox is a great concept that West Virginia has adopted in limited fashion. We have two – in insurance and financial technology. We would like to expand this concept to an all-inclusive sandbox that will not favor one industry over another. This will allow the benefits of experimentation for all industries and consumers. Utah is leading the way with its recent adoption of an all-inclusive sandbox. We believe it is usually a good idea to follow Utah’s lead when it comes to making it easier for businesses and entrepreneurs to ply their respective trades.


Create a Competitive Tax Structure

Finally, Cardinal would like to see meaningful tax reform in West Virginia. This can be through the reduction/abolition of the state income tax. It could also be through the removal of the growth-inhibiting business and inventory tax. West Virginia cannot simply have a competitive tax structure – our tax system must favor entrepreneurs rather than burdening productivity.

When put on paper, these reforms do not seem like very high hurdles to overcome. However, each reform comes with its own unique set of problems, ignorance, status quo bias, and powerful opposition. We have come to expect this when fighting the good fight as we have over the years.

2022 will be a new, exciting chapter for our humble organization, and, hopefully, West Virginia, too.

Happy holidays, everyone!


Garrett Ballengee is the Executive Director for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.