First, radical left-wing Speaker Rick Thompson being ousted may be the first sign of a change coming from the Golden Dome. Thompson was the driver of radical legislation and undeniably strange things including a resolution and rally on the final day of the Legislature in 2010 in support of out-of-control public unions in Wisconsin while condemning its sitting governor. Despite important West Virginia legislation being left on the sidelines, Thompson found time to involve West Virginia in Wisconsin's affairs.
Second, the day of teacher pay raises without education reforms is past. Gov. Tomblin commissioned an education audit at taxpayer expense that recommended substantial education reforms. Today, the study is being "studied" while education reforms sit idle. Every session teacher's unions approach the Legislature for pay increases. Given the new legislative make-up, those raises, if any, will be tied to reform -- substantial reform.
Third, the odds of major improvements in the business climate have greatly increased. Civil justice reform, overhauling our punishing tax code, and government reform are certain to be placed on the front-burner while increases in the government dependency programs will be more fairly debated and considered. And, declining revenues due to the decline of the coal industry will be solved with cuts to spending as opposed to tax increases.
Fourth, West Virginians will quickly appreciate the election of Patrick Morrissey as attorney general. While our state has sat the sidelines as other states have carried the burden of challenging federal legislation that adversely impacts West Virginia, Morrissey will maintain the role of an attorney general as a strong consumer advocate while defending West Virginia jobs from an overreaching and growing federal bureaucracy.
While I respect the office of the president and the decision of the American people in the re-election of President Obama, his re-election means the next four years could be especially difficult for the people of this great state. New leaders, new voices and a more balanced state government will bring positive change in West Virginia even if positive change at the federal level is delayed for another four years.
Finally, I wish the president well but I strongly disagree with his view of the role of government and his administration's assault on West Virginia energy and jobs. In the interests of building a stronger nation, however, we must be prepared to extend our cooperation if President Obama is willing to reconsider and moderate his approach to coal and issues that affect this wonderful state. The nation's fate hangs in the balance. We cannot wait four more years to begin the process of solving our collective challenges.
Stuart is a former state Republican chairman.