Sparks praised the Legislature for helping the Boy Scouts get new roads to help visitors reach their new national campsite in Fayette County and for creating better state insurance coverage for children with autism.
He also praised the Legislature for raising the tax threshold for lower-income families back in 2007. Before the legislation, those who earned $10,000 or more paid taxes. The Legislature had raised the tax threshold to $20,000.
"We need to improve laws on predatory loans," Sparks said. "We did a lot on health care, but we still have a long way to go."
Last year, the new CFED report points out, West Virginia had the nation's fourth-lowest rate of low-income children without health insurance, largely because of the state's Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
WVASF officials also distributed a pamphlet written by Elizabeth Paulhus, a policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, titled, "Save Up, Not Spend Down: Eliminating the Asset Test for Families in Medicaid and TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families]."
"Income helps [families] meet their daily needs, while assets like retirement accounts, homes and vehicles or bank accounts help families weather economic downturns and financial emergencies," Paulhus wrote.
Today, West Virginia has some of the nation's strictest "asset tests" before it allows people to collect Medicaid and TANF benefits.
"These asset tests can discourage low-income families from saving, whether for retirement or for a child's education, and prevent them from becoming self-sufficient," Paulhus points out.
Moderating asset tests is one of WVASF's main goals.
"Without asset tests," Paulhus points out, "families would no longer have to spend down their savings in order to receive temporary assistance and would have a chance of becoming more economically secure."
Today, 23 states and the District of Columbia have already eliminated asset tests for families who apply for Medicaid.
Eliminating that test in the Mountain State, Paulhus believes, "would send a clear message to its families that saving and accumulating assets are encouraged practices."
The pamphlet is available at: http://www.wvasf.org/PDFs/SaveUpNotSpendDown.pdf.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.