West Virginia editorial roundup

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Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

May 25

The Register-Herald, Bleckley, West Virginia, on backlogging:

As we and the rest of the nation prepare to honor our fallen military veterans, it comes at a time of a jarring contradiction between this sacred holiday and the treatment of some veterans in hospitals run by the federal Veterans Administration.

The scandal, and that surely is an accurate term for what has so far been discovered, began at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., and has spread elsewhere to other VA medical facilities across the nation.

It involves long waits for appointments at the hospitals, as well as delays in benefits processing.

For many veterans, this is not a new issue involving VA hospitals, and many have complained for years about the bureaucracy and red tape involved in treatment at VA hospitals.

The VA scandal is far more serious than the standard delays veterans face in getting treatment. A former clinic director associated with the Phoenix VA hospital claims that up to 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment and it was directly due to these delays, The Associated Press reported.

And then it was revealed that staff at the Phoenix VA hospital kept a secret appointments list to "mask the delays," the AP said.

In all, 26 VA hospitals will be investigated by the Inspector General's Office within the Veterans Administration.

There is no indication that VA hospitals in West Virginia are guilty of such dishonorable and, perhaps, even criminal behavior.

But it gives us pause that the VA's health care system has been lauded by supporters of the federal Affordable Care Act and held up as a model for national health care.

Many veterans would tell us that the VA system is less a model for health care than it is a model for bureaucratic delays and endless red tape.

Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.

As we hang our flags and visit our cemeteries to honor our fallen veterans, we also need to take time for some thought about our living veterans.

They deserve no less.

Online:

http://www.register-herald.com

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May 27

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, West Virginia, on college presidents' salaries:

The Chronicle of Higher Education came out with an eye-opening report last week, showing that nine public college presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2013.

Topping the list was Gordon Gee, who was paid $6.1 million as the head of Ohio State University. Of course much of that was related to his departure. Gee's big haul includes $3.3 million in deferred pay and $1.55 million in retirement and severance pay.

Gee has now moved to West Virginia University, where he is expected to make a more modest $775,000. Most of the other top-paid public college presidents earned in the $1 million to $1.6 million range. Pay is even higher for some private college presidents, with an earlier survey showing 42 making more than a million, with a handful earning more than $3 million a year.

The median pay for presidents in the Chronicle's survey of public institutions was $479,000, and the median pay for private ones was a little less. Most of the presidents in West Virginia are below that mark, but many in Ohio and Kentucky are much higher.

But overall -- for public and private, large schools and small -- salaries have been rising sharply over the past decade.

Without question, colleges and universities can be huge operations with huge budgets. Today's presidents are not only charged with charting a vision for their institutions, but also developing a plan to pay for it all in a day when state funding is on the decline.

So, it is easy to see how college boards can view their top executives in the same light as the highly compensated CEOs that run our nation's largest corporations.

But higher education is a different animal.

Most colleges and universities are nonprofits, charged with the special mission of providing a life-changing education to students from all walks of life. Public schools, in particular, have a responsibility to provide that education at the most reasonable price possible.

Online:

http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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May 27

Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail on poverty:

For 130 years, Democrats controlled the Texas Legislature. In 2002, Texans changed. They voted and turned both houses of their legislature over to Republicans.

The results were remarkable. Suddenly, the Texas economy took off. Businesses pulled up stakes in other states to relocate to the Lone Star state, investors flocked, and incomes rose.

In January 2002, Texas had 10,043,285 jobs. By December 2013, Texas had 12,102,299 jobs — a 20 percent increase.

The Census Bureau reported last week that three of the five fastest growing U.S. cities are in Texas. Seven of the nation's 15 fastest growing cities are in Texas.

Compare that to West Virginia, which had 756,724 jobs in January 2002 and 741,406 jobs in December 2013.

Thus, while Texas added 2,059,014 West Virginia lost 15,318 jobs.

Going Republican after 130 years of a Democratic-controlled legislature paid off in Texas.

Will West Virginia voters follow the same path in November? Will they choose to end 82 years of Democratic control of the West Virginia Legislature?

Politics, not coal, are the reason this state is an economic basket case mired in 49th place in income.

There is hope. The national Republican Legislative Campaign Committee recently outlined the odds of Republicans winning the House of Delegates.

"A mix of single and multi-member districts gives House Republicans many different pathways to winning the majority," the committee's political director Justin Richards wrote, "Republicans are targeting at least three Democrat-held open seats. Additional opportunities exist where two freshmen Despite a recovery thwarted by Democratic policies nationally, states are making progress.

"The red states took four of the top five and seven of the top 10 spots. CNBC noted for 2013 that nine of the top 10 states for business were states completely controlled by Republican legislatures," Richards wrote.

Other states have flipped and improved their economies. West Virginia voters might want to ask themselves, "Why not us?"

Online:

http://www.charlestondailymail.com

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