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WV Jobs and Economic Recovery Campaign Kick-Off

December 19, 2008

Charleston, WV – They want economic recovery as soon as possible, along with new jobs. A campaign is getting underway in West Virginia to try to drum up support for a national economic rescue package.

Rick Wilson is the executive director of the American Friends Service Committee's "Economic Justice Project." He says that, while West Virginia has not felt much economic pain yet, it's only a matter of time. He cites the announcement that the Ravenswood aluminum plant may shut down as an indicator of what's to come. A comprehensive federal package of short-term and long-term investments is what he says is needed.

"We need to be helping people who are hit hardest by the recession - looking at child care, looking at health care. There's a huge bunch of needs out that which we could be investing in, investment that would be good for the country, and be good for the economy."

According to Wilson, top economists say investing in child care assistance and food stamps brings a local economic return of almost $2 for every $1 of federal money spent.

Gary Zuckett is the chair of West Virginians United for Social and Economic Justice. He looks at federal investment as an opportunity to diversify the state's job picture.

"West Virginia has $20 billion of needed infrastructure repairs on the books right now, mostly roads and bridges. We could keep our people working."

Congress is working on an economic package for states, and President-elect Obama has outlined a plan topping $800 billion that focuses on health care and transportation.

Those concerned about economic rescue packages point to the fact they will increase the federal deficit and could lead to higher taxes.

The West Virginia AFL-CIO, National Association of Social Workers-West Virginia Chapter, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, and the Direct Action Welfare group are supporters of the campaign calling for a federal economic rescue package.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - WV