The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 17, 2013

Education, prison reform among top legislative issues

View from the House

Del. David Perry

— With the dawn of a new year comes the beginning of a new regular session for the West Virginia Legislature, which will begin its 60 days of work on Feb. 13.

West Virginia had an up and down year in 2012. We saw good things happen such as new businesses come in the state, but we also had a education efficiency audit that shows that our secondary schools need to do better.

The 2012 regular session brought us triumphs with the issue of OPEB liabilities. However, it also dropped the ball when it came to the problem of prison overcrowding and delving further into the issues of drug crimes in the state.

With the start of a new year, the Legislature’s first and foremost priority this year will be education reform. After the release of the education efficiency audit last year, the Legislature and the Governor were awakened to critical issues that are plaguing our secondary education system. One problem found was the Department of Education’s administration was “top heavy.”

I was honored when House Speakers Richard Thompson appointed me to a special study group that will analyze the audit further. There were numerous recommendations provided within this education audit. That is why it is important for the Legislature to analyze and understand each recommendation thoroughly. The policy changes the Legislature makes need to be clear and effective. I look forward to working on this group. Education is the key to this state’s future and we must not fail our children.

It has been suggested that prison overcrowding will be a topic the Legislature will consider and look into this year. As a member of the Regional Jails interim committee for many years I hope careful consideration of this issue does occur this year. We have been battling large prison and jail populations for some time now and until something is done we will continue to see the numbers rise.

On top of the prison overcrowding we need to also look at staffing at these facilities. Time and again we have been hearing about misconduct or not having sufficient staff at these facilities. We need to look at salaries of these workers and making sure we get the best of the best to fill these positions. Right now with the salary, we are lacking in that department.

The Legislature has some serious policy issues to consider during the session.

As I have done for the past few sessions I will be doing my weekly radio broadcast on the progress of the regular session beginning Feb. 15.

If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to call my office at 340-3155 or write Delegate David Perry at the State Capitol, Building 1, Room 204 East, Charleston, WV, 25305.