This campaign is about fresh ideas, new initiatives and the future of West Virginia,” Skaff said. ”I want to use my past experiences to make this a better place to live for all current and future West Virginians.” I believe the skills I’ve developed over the last five years in the House, the relationships I have built in the community, and my experiences in the business world make me an ideal candidate to be your voice as Senator for Kanawha County.
I want to make it easier for West Virginians to stay in West Virginia,” Skaff said. “When searching for opportunity, I want people to turn to West Virginia. I don’t want people to be forced to travel outside our borders for a better education or a better job. If people want to stay close to their family and their roots, I want to work to help provide them that option. I will continue to strive to create opportunities to provide for a more educated and dedicated workforce.
I will remain focused on education, creating jobs, providing for our seniors and veterans, and smart economic growth/development across the region. As Senator I intend on listening to the concerns and insights of Kanawha County residents to identify the critical issues and challenges facing the area today and tomorrow.
Economic Development and Jobs
I have been serving as Chairman of the House Economic and Small Business Committee as well as the Legislative Oversight Commission on Workforce Investment for Economic Development.
I will work to create and lead a caravan around the state with the Speaker of the House and Senate President stopping in various towns and cities to have roundtable discussions and forums with current business owners of all sizes to understand why they are successful and what we can do legislatively to help support them. I think it is important to hear first hand from those who make a payroll and wake up everyday creating opportunities for families to be successful in WV.
Being a small business owner my self I know the hardships and struggles people deal with on a daily basis just to make the payroll and pay the bills. I want to continue to work with organizations like Vision Shared that work on legislation that encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, and research in new technologies that do not currently exist. We should reward those entrepreneurs willing to take a chance that want to try something new hear in WV and when they create and sustain jobs in WV we should help them and not discourage them from making that initial investment.
I will continue to lead the charge and introduce legislation like I have passed in the House for the last two years called Project Launch pad. Project Launch pad helps employers who create new jobs and provide new innovative technologies that do not exist today by providing property tax breaks on the new equipment and investments that result in the creation of those great paying jobs with benefits.
We can’t create new jobs or attract new jobs without an educated workforce. Which is why I will support and advocate for school and business partnerships to provide for a more educated and skilled workforce from the initial first class to completion of degree. Having visited the Toyota plant and spoken with numerous business leaders at Toyota, I will to continue to work with the community and technical colleges to create similar programs like what Toyota has established. Toyota plant in Eleanor gives hands on training to those students while obtaining their degree then rewards 85% of them with a job after completion of program. I will continue to advocate for the expansion of these types of programs into our manufacturing, health, and natural gas industry.
Teachers deserve to be paid more. I owe my experiences in life to my teachers through the years from grade school through college. We can’t compete in the market place and attract jobs if we don’t have highly qualified and talent workforce. Our teachers are the ones who will be educating our future leaders and workers of tomorrow and we must be creative and find ways to pay them more. All parties must come together to continue to examine our current structure and do what we can as elected officials to pay all teachers more, reward those who go above and beyond, and help provide for those who want to go back and expand into teaching new fields.
How do we pay teachers more?
We must be creative, be willing to make changes, and look for other ways to increase our teacher’s salaries.
- I will work to create a plan that includes teachers to my list of recent college graduates tax incentive plan that gives those new graduates who chose teaching as their profession no state income tax for the first three years after graduation. Bill will need to be studied to see the effects but this is a way to get a new group of students into a field of study in which we will have a shortage in the upcoming years. A back-ended tax credit is one way to pay teachers more for their hard work and encourage those choosing a career to consider teaching as a profession.
- Create a program that allows businesses/ companies to partner with the high schools to pay for teacher’s increases that help prepare them for their field of study. Example Manufacturing Sector. Over 70% of our line managers are eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Are we encouraging students to go into the manufacturing sector? Can teachers in High school better prepare them in the S.T.E.M fields? What if companies helped pay to give those teachers more training and schooling as well as reward them for their dedication to these fields, what if companies invested in their future work-force by helping those who educate them. If people say they can’t afford to pay, I will challenge that and say we can’t afford not to.
Senior, Veterans, and Retirees
This is a vital untapped resource for West Virginia. We need to provide tax incentives to our seniors, veterans, and retirees in particularly income taxes, housing, and healthcare cost. This will help our existing citizens and will encourage new retirees and veterans come home to West Virginia. Incentives for our seniors’ will allow their expenditures to stay in WV and stimulate our economy, provide ancillary jobs, and expand our population base.
We also need to educate our Veterans about the opportunities for employment, education, and housing that exists in WV. These heroes risk their lives and make sacrifices every day and we do not do enough to help them get back on their feet when they return. Every person who serves overseas should be able to come home to a job or education. It is up to us to help them achieve their dreams after serving.
Educated Workforce and Priorities for Public Education
We must focus our education system in these areas to provide for a more educated workforce to fill those needs of today and tomorrow.
We need to create programs that focus on the retention of our graduates upon completion of their education. We have programs that give incentives to attend higher education schools in West Virginia but nothing to fill the void between graduation and their career paths. We must work together with the business leaders, public officials, teachers, and parents to help create incentives that will allow for more opportunities to hire our graduates and keep them in the state.
An interconnectedness of students, staff, and parents with good communication. Create environments of think tanks for all interested parties to achieve maximum outcomes.
21st century curriculum and instruction
Relevance and relationship are the keys to a meaningful education so our students can compete and excel in a global society.
Schools provide appropriate instruction and become powerful learning communities.
Students become well-rounded individuals in music, art, technology, writing, teamwork, group projects, and speaking skills, in addition to the core curriculum. Collaboration, formative, summative, and benchmark assessment, and effective monitoring process, to ensure that we are preparing students that are ready for the future.
Create a internet based assessment program for students to take periodically at their leisure that test on likes and dislikes, personality traits, what they like to do, to help students see what fields of study they might like t take and what occupation they might excel in.
If the test states a person likes numbers and working alone it might suggest a few occupations like Accounting or research then shows what courses they need to take. We must be proactive in matching those students likes, dislikes, personalities, and traits so we are not wasting the students time on courses they may not need.
The PROMISE scholarship is indeed a great thing that allows our high school graduates to further their education in an in state school for college. It was created to help keep our graduates in state for their education. We should not punish those students who decide to leave the state; instead work towards new ways of keeping them here. We must work with local businesses, educators, community leaders, and current employers to provide for ways to make more opportunities in the state available for our graduates who want to stay.
We must examine all opportunities to partner with the colleges to establish a plan or form of prepayment of scholarships to help control escalating cost, thus locking the cost in at today’s tuition rates for use on future scholarships.
Additionally, offer businesses the chance to participate in scholarships and then they would have a vested interest in the graduate’s future employment thus keeping our graduates in WV.
Our state is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. We should not be penalized for the region we are in and the opportunities that exist.
Marcellus Shale and natural gas will provide an enormous amount of new jobs, new investments, and new opportunities for our state and allow all West Virginians to prosper. I will continue to work to embrace this new Marcellus Shale region as well as work to help create a stable, secure, and fair rules & regulations environment for those wishing to develop. Companies will not invest or create jobs in WV if we do not work with them and be willing to create a structure that provides stability. As a State Senator I will continue to sell WV to those companies thinking of locating a cracker plant in our state as well as encourage those downstream investments to happen here in the Kanawha Valley and across our shale region.
As chairman of Small Business & Economic Development Committee my committee was the first to pass such legislation that created the rules and regulations to allow for consistency and structure when drilling in the Marcellus region.
I see tremendous opportunities at our two-year and four year schools to provide world class teaching and training to those looking to make a career change into this industry. I will help create laws to provide the tools and resources to allow those schools to expand into these new fields and encourage all companies to utilize WV workers when locating in our state.
Coal is the backbone of West Virginia. Our state has been able to do some amazing things over the years because of this industry. West Virginians rely on coal as means to provide for their families. I will continue to stand up to those in Washington Dc and around the country that have waged this war on this industry making my voice heard as proud supporter of coal. Although the national agenda by this administration has handcuffed us on allot of issues, I will continue to voice my opposition and do what I can locally to ensure our state laws are pro coal and pro coal families.
Environmental laws are continually being changed and I would be open for consideration of any laws that provide for the improvement of the health and well being of all West Virginians. West Virginia is a beautiful state and I will continue to work hard to make sure we have that balance allowing for development of our resources while not damaging the water and mountains that make our state special.
Led the charge to break up the large 7 Member district formerly called (30th District) Worked to create a 4-3 compromise splitting up the district into two separate districts. One for the Eastern Upper Kanawha Valley area and one for the Western part of the county. I believe this compromise will result in better representation of the people of WV.