CHARLESTON, WV (STL.News) In his 2022 State of the State address last night, Gov. Jim Justice announced that the deficit that has hindered the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Old Fund for decades has now been completely eliminated.
The Workers’ Compensation Old Fund, which in 2005 had racked up a deficit of $3.5 billion, now has a positive net asset balance of $57 million.
Under the Governor’s leadership, the Old Fund’s invested assets generated over $170 million during FY2021 alone; a 17.6% return for the year.
“We are now running the Workers’ Compensation program like a private insurance company would and it’s on the right path,” Gov. Justice said. “This once-enormous problem for our state has finally been resolved. Now, when a company is looking at moving to or expanding in West Virginia, we can add to our sales pitch that our Workers’ Compensation program is solvent and able to cover our hardworking West Virginians.”
“Governor Justice always seems to be pushing the right buttons when it comes to our state’s finances. Our Workers’ Compensation Old Fund, which plagued us with a massive deficit for years, is now an asset for us. It really is a landmark achievement,” said West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Allan McVey. “We had been trending in the right direction for awhile, but it’s no coincidence that the Old Fund went positive while Governor Justice was in charge. Everything that has been done to make West Virginia a desired location for businesses to set up shop or expand put us on the path to make this announcement. We’re really humming across the board in West Virginia, and I thank Governor Justice for helping to make it all possible.”
In 2005, a special session of the West Virginia Legislature established the framework for the privatization of the workers’ compensation program. Old Fund claims were placed in a fund for all claims occurring before July 1, 2005, and revenue streams were established to pay those claims down over a period of time. In 2008, West Virginia became a truly open and competitive market for workers’ compensation. Since then, the program has prospered by taking care of injured workers, while simultaneously reducing premiums for West Virginia businesses.
Under Gov. Justice’s leadership, West Virginia continues to enjoy an era of success and prosperity.
After inheriting a $500 million budget deficit, Gov. Justice has led the state to a string of consistent budget surpluses by using his lifelong experience as a businessman to make West Virginia a more business-friendly state and by standing behind the energy industry. Last month, West Virginia recorded a $124.4 million revenue surplus, bringing the total fiscal year surplus to $393.9 million in just six months.
??People are more excited than ever to be in West Virginia. From April 2010 to July 2019, more than 43,000 people moved out of the state. However, from 2020 through 2021, net migration is up in West Virginia for the first time in decades, with over 2,000 people moving into our state, making West Virginia one of the top states in the entire nation that people are moving into on a percentage basis.
West Virginia is finally competing on the world stage and recruiting world-class companies to our state as shown in three recent major announcements. Nucor Corporation announced that they selected Mason County as the location for a state-of-the-art sheet steel mill. This record investment will exceed $2.7 billion, making it the largest in West Virginia history, as well as the largest single investment Nucor has ever made. GreenPower Motor Company announced an agreement with the state to manufacture zero-emission, all-electric school buses in South Charleston, bringing hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact to West Virginia. Finally, Owens & Minor, a Fortune 500 company that provides medical supplies, is going to expand on a deal they previously had with WVU Medicine and create over 125 jobs at a healthcare products preparedness and supply center in Morgantown.
Additionally, the Governor’s Roads to Prosperity program is the state’s largest-ever investment in road maintenance and improvement; after 50 years of neglecting its roads, the state has committed more than $2 billion dollars to fixing them. Teachers and state employees have received their two largest pay raises ever, and a third pay raise has been proposed. The state’s Rainy Day Fund now exceeds $1 billion – another record – and its public pension funds are better-funded than they have been in decades. Thanks to Gov. Justice, Veterans now live in West Virginia tax-free and senior citizens do not face state taxes on social security. The Governor has also led West Virginia through a once-in-a-century pandemic, protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Additionally, increased investments in the state’s tourism efforts have visitation and intrigue in West Virginia through the roof. West Virginia was recently named a top-10 travel region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet; the only state to earn this prestigious distinction and the state was also recently selected as one of the Best Places to Go by Condé Nast Traveler.