September 20, 2018 Print

The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy was recently featured by the Exponent Telegram, a prominent West Virginia paper, in an article responding to a new report proposed by the liberal think tank West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP). The WVCBP report claims that the best way to increase employment, wages, and quality of life for West Virginia families is by implementing  substantial regulations.

“The [WVCBP] report makes recommendations on wages, including increasing the minimum wage from $8.75 to $15 per hour by 2025 and increasing the threshold at which employers must pay overtime wages to salaried employees above the current level of $23,660,” the Exponent explains. “The report also calls for fair workweek legislation, which could include advanced scheduling, right to request days off, pay for a portion of scheduled work if a shift is canceled, reduced or otherwise changed at the last minute, and additional wages for split shifts and on-call time.”

The Cardinal Institute has worked on implementing alternative policy reforms to the ones listed above that have resulted in positive change for the residents of West Virginia. Reforms such as the repeal of the prevailing wage law has increased freedom in West Virginia and resulted in a 5 spot jump — from 39 to 34 — in the Cato Institute’s Freedom in the 50 States report.

The Exponent article heavily cited Cardinal Institute Development Director, Dr. Jessi Troyan. Troyan rebutted the report’s claim that these policies would benefit working West Virginia families.

From the Exponent:

“[The WVCBP is] really strong on good intentions, but the outcomes that I think will arise as workers and employers respond to the policy changes will not match up with the intention of the policies,” Troyan said. Troyan pointed to a University of Washington study on the increased minimum wage in Seattle that found increased wages for low-wage jobs were offset by a decrease in hours worked. She also pointed out that benefits like insurance and pensions that may be included in compensation packages are not reflected in hourly wages.

‘When it’s taken as given that these policies are law of the land, employers are going to factor that into their hiring decisions, especially in considering hiring women of childbearing age,’ she said. “They’re looking at a very realistic possibility that this employee is going to be unavailable for roughly 25 percent of the work year … Any situation that’s going to make blanket requirements on any and all employers is going to lead to distortions and effects beyond what we anticipate,’ she said. ‘Allowing each employer, each employee to react to the situations in light of what best fits their culture, their company and their overall economic situation is going to lead to better solutions for each workplace than a one-size-fits-all prescription.’”

“The extensive quoting in this article does two very important things,” Dr. Troyan told Atlas Network. “First, it allows for the unfolding of the logic why I, and the Cardinal Institute, disagree with these proposals by explaining how the policies are predicted to fail in achieving the intended outcomes. Second, it’s a clear example of how two groups on opposite sides of the spectrum can disagree over policy ideas without devolving into politics.”

Such thorough inclusion of Dr. Troyan’s comments by the Exponent is a compliment to the Cardinal Institute and a hopeful sign for the future of West Virginia economic policy and political discourse. Including perspectives like Dr. Troyan’s informs the public of the potential harms of government intervention as well as of the benefits of free markets.

Dr. Troyan says she hopes her comments will “encourage policy makers and the general public to think more deeply about the effects of popular policy proposals and hold the generators of such policy ideas to a higher standard than mere good intentions.”