New Year, New West Virginia!

If you’re like most people, you make resolutions at the beginning of every year – lose weight, read more books, travel someplace new, finish a degree, etc. A new year is a chance at a fresh start – it’s an easy marker on the calendar that allows you to push the reset button. But, if you’re like most people, you don’t always achieve those resolutions: you only reach half your weight loss goal, you don’t read any more books than usual, your someplace new was only one town over, and you made progress but didn’t quite finish that degree.

At the Cardinal Institute, our work always comes with a lot of ups and downs – a lot of positive steps forward and a lot of unrealized goals. In 2019, we made several lofty New Year’s Resolutions. Some we made progress on, some we didn’t, none were a slam dunk. AND THAT’S OKAY! Every new year – every new day – is an opportunity to make the choices that propel you forward and closer to the future you want to see.

John Acuff sets out some great tips for how to achieve your goals. One that really stuck out to me this year was the need to set smaller goals. Now, you may think that just sounds like giving up or not being ambitious enough, but let’s think about it. If you set your goals just a little more realistically, then when you achieve them you’ll have the motivation to go on to achieve those Big Hairy Audacious Goals that have been eluding you for years instead of the discouragement that comes from continually falling short.

For team Cardinal, our big dream is to see the West Virginia Miracle become a reality. We hope to one day wake up and see a headline in the Wall Street Journal with that title talking about how West Virginia has become prosperous, begun to grow, and has turned over a new leaf in its history. This is a massive goal, and we know that real life miracles don’t just happen overnight – they must be built! So, we break the big goal up into smaller goals each year. This year we are prioritizing THREE significant efforts that we believe will move the needle in the right direction and that would make a difference in the lives of individual Mountaineers.

Educating About Education Choice 

This last year we resolved to see universal education choice in West Virginia. Clearly, we didn’t reach that goal; however, we are proud to say that now West Virginia has open enrollment and will soon be seeing its first ever charter schools! We believe access to a quality education is foundational to the health of a state and to the prosperity of its people, so we aren’t stopping there. While working to promote education choice, we realized that a lot of people just don’t know what they don’t have. So, this year, we’ll be working hard to educate the people of the Mountain State about education choice: how the system currently works, what education choice options there are, what possibilities there are for West Virginia and how they would change things for the better.

In an effort to kick start this goal, we are hosting not one but TWO events during National School Choice Week this year!

January 25th at the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston we are hosting Virginia Walden Ford for a screening of her movie Miss Virginia! She’ll be giving out signed copies of her book and answering questions about school choice and parent advocacy!

January 29th we’ll be holding our annual National School Choice Week Celebration at the Charleston Civic Center! This year we’ll be giving out awards such as Educator of the Year and Voice for Choice! We are excited to spend time celebrating the progress we’ve made toward educational freedom and the successes of students and educators across West Virginia.

As in past years, we will continue to bring awareness to the importance of quality education and the need for educational freedom in the Mountain State.

Occupational Licensing Reform

Last year, we did a deep dive into studying occupational licensing in West Virginia and comparing our licensing regime to those of our neighbors – Ohio and Pennsylvania. We started off with a comparison of 64 different kinds of licenses in a Mountain of Regulation. Then, in our subsequent research project entitled Barriers to Work in the Mountain State,  we honed in on the 25 high barrier occupations we discovered in West Virginia and highlighted the different regulations that were creating the barriers.

This year, we’re working to take that research to legislators and the public to help make real changes in our occupational licensing laws. One thing that needs change is a consolidation of the occupational licensing boards that are redundant and unnecessary. They are taking up precious taxpayer dollars and resources that could be better spent on other important services that help instead of hinder the people of the Mountain State.

Repeal of the Business Inventory Tax

A lot of people may not know what the business inventory tax is. Basically, it’s a tax on the value of your inventory – this tax is in addition to other property taxes a business may be paying and any sales taxes. Only 14 states in the U.S. tax business inventory. It is very burdensome for small business owners, especially those that have a lot of leftover inventory come tax season.

Taxes like this prevent small businesses from being able to flourish and prevent entrepreneurs from creating new jobs that can help boost the economy. The business inventory tax violates rules of sound tax policy including transparency and neutrality – meaning that many people don’t know it exists and it doesn’t apply equally to all those affected by it.

This year we will work to bring awareness to this unjust tax and will fight to get it repealed.


2020 is going to be a year for bold new changes in West Virginia, and we at the Cardinal Institute are excited to be leading the charge! Our resolutions this year will be another step toward our goal of building the West Virginia Miracle. Even if we don’t reach each individual goal at exactly the time we planned or in exactly the ways we planned, we’ll make progress.

We hope you’ll join us this year to build the West Virginia Miracle and make our state a place people are not only proud to call home but a place where they’re able to stay and make a living for themselves and future generations.


Amanda Kieffer is the Communications Associate for the Cardinal Institute for WV Policy.