Tax cut on the way, ailing WVa coal seeks even bigger break

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By JONATHAN MATTISE
Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Already set for a break, ailing West Virginia coal is making a late-game plea for a bigger tax cut.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill Monday dropping a 56-cent-per-ton coal surtax by July at the latest, worth $51.5 million in the 2017 budget. It has helped pay a workers’ compensation debt for years.

Later Monday, senators began pushing for an overall coal severance tax from 5 to 4 percent in July 2017, and 3 percent in July 2018. Tomblin’s administration estimated more than a $100 million cost.

It was amended Tuesday to give natural gas a break.

The proposal requires a Senate vote by Wednesday. Democratic senators worried it would hamstring future state budgets and reduce revenue for coal-producing counties.

The state expects a $466 million 2017 budget gap.

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