Tomblin lays out a large agenda

West Virginia has taken some great steps in the last year, but more must be done to make us more competitive with the nation and the rest of the world.

That was the general message of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State address Wednesday, and we are glad to see our state’s leaders do not plan on resting on their laurels.

The state of West Virginia continues to look for ways to cut back plans to reduce the state’s budget by more than $75 million.

Fortunately, those cuts won’t affect scholarship programs or state aid to our schools.

It also will not affect Medicaid, mine safety programs or the State Police.

One of the main focuses does seem to be on finding ways to improve the Mountain State’s educational systems, providing more local control in some areas, improve truancy reductions, requiring a full-day preschool program and improving reading programs.

Work force education also is suggested to be made a higher priority, preparing students for the types of jobs that are available and doing so at any earlier age.

West Virginia ranks 49th nationally in student achievement, and we have only a 78 percent graduation rate.

Changes definitely must be made, and we are glad to hear it will be a focus in the coming months.

Other areas within the governor’s sights are increased safety for law enforcement officers, a continued fight against drug abuse, improvements to our natural gas pipeline system and the state’s safety statutes where those pipelines are concerned, and improvements in our prison system to address overcrowding and other issues.

This is a large and varied agenda our governor has proposed.

We encourage our state leaders to find ways to work together and address them in some way, because it is only through that cooperation that we, as a state, can move forward to a better future.