Finance chairman says tax plan is too small, wrong approach and lack of communication
Gov. Jim Justice wants a special session to cut personal income taxes by about 10%, but the Senate finance chairman cites three problems: too little, the wrong tax and too little communication.
“The governor has been a big thinker for the state, and so when he comes up with ideas, they’re usually really big ideas. So when he talks about tax cuts, I would normally be excited, thinking he’s going to come up with a big plan. And it wasn’t a big plan,” Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, said last week. on “580 Live” on WCHS Radio.
“I would have really liked the Governor to come and speak to the Senate, to anyone in the Senate, and to the leadership of the Senate in particular – before he comes in and says he’s going to call a special session on a very small tax reduction.”
Tarr said the governor’s proposal came “when we’re in a position in West Virginia like we’ve never had before because of a lot of things coming together at once,” describing a budget year that has grossed over a billion dollars. above estimates. Meanwhile, Senate leaders have worked on property tax cuts of more than $500 million.
“So if we are really going to take advantage of this situation in time, as we probably haven’t seen in our lifetime and may not see again once we get through this, we go through and we apply policies of tax cuts that are meaningful to West Virginians.
“A 10% tax cut doesn’t move people. It does not move capital. It’s about three hundred dollars a year on average for people. Now $300 is a lot of money for some people. But that has nothing to do with the impact of eliminating the personal property tax.
Justice is aiming for a special session aligned with regularly scheduled legislative interim meetings beginning in just over a week. State lawmakers have tended to be wary of open-ended special sessions because the public is sensitive to the day-to-day cost of meetings.
Comments like Tarr’s show there’s a big gap between the governor’s vision and what some legislative leaders prefer.
“When the governor comes in and says, ‘Let’s do a 10 percent income tax cut,’ I’m all about the income tax cuts,” Tarr said. “But if you’re going to do it, let’s do something that moves money and moves people and keeps families in West Virginia. And the reduced property tax makes West Virginia so competitive to bring people here.
During a briefing last week, The court reiterated that he believes that lowering income taxes is good policy, whether legislators do it or not.
“At the end of the day, if it’s up to the Senate or the House, they don’t want to do that – all I can say is just this: I’d say ‘I missed a great opportunity.’ I’m not going to worry about that. I can absolutely tell you that you can only take the horse to the water trough; you can’t make them drink.
“Truly and truly, their response then will be to the public, not to me. I won’t worry. I’m going to hate this for our people. That’s what we should be doing. We should act very, very quickly.
State Senator Robert Karnes, who led a select committee exploring tax changes in 2017, said last week that cutting income taxes would be a more strategic economic move than property tax cuts. , although it generally supports both. During last year’s regular session, Karnes gave near-daily speeches in favor of income tax cuts.
“I think there’s broad support for the two tax cuts in caucus, and I think it’s probably more mixed as to who thinks which should go first,” said Karnes, R-Randolph , last week on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
Senate Minority Leader Stephen Baldwin noted that the Democratic caucus has proposed state sales tax cuts this year as well as a gasoline tax exemption. He expressed his frustration that nothing came of it.
“With inflation soaring to a 40-year high and a 9.1% increase in the last month alone, the people of West Virginia need immediate tax relief,” Baldwin said, D-Greenbrier.
“Every proposal was rejected by our Republican colleagues. What are they waiting for? People need help now. Why are they wasting time talking about possible income or property tax relief in the coming years? People need help now. We’re open to any ideas that will bring immediate relief to people, and we’re ready to work with anyone who’s willing to do the job.
Delegate John Williams, D-Monongalia, said he was surprised the governor had raised the income tax issue again, after previous years’ review failed to pass . Williams is a member of the House Finance Committee.
“I don’t know how much appetite there is for it. I think there are discussions going on, but we’ll see,” Williams said on “Talk of the Town” on WAJR Radio.
He said the money could be used in better ways.
“My concern is that if you go and just do some kind of income tax cut willy-nilly, it’s not going straight into the pockets of the people who need it the most,” Williams said.
“There are other proposals that would result in a similar reduction in state government revenue, which would give every child in West Virginia a tax credit and pay for child care. There are proposals that would target middle-class or low-income people more, those who suffer the most. So before we come in and say, “Let’s cut taxes” and everyone goes, “Oh yeah, let’s do that,” let’s look at who actually gets the tax cut.
Williams said he wasn’t sure what direction the special session would take.
“As to guessing what the final product will look like, I’m not sure,” he said.