The Budget talks continue behind closed doors at the Capitol, and the numbers keep changing. We know they are discussing a sales tax increase to 6.35 percent. The proposed 20 percent cut in state income taxes would be spread over three years, instead of two. And a commercial activities tax would help fund road work. Already there are critics.
“A lot of people are going to end up paying a lot more in sales taxes, that will evaporate any income tax savings they have. But the big problem we have is were facing a $500 million budget gap, and we’re looking at tax cuts to be the big solution. We need to be working in the opposite direction to make sure we have adequate revenue to make the investments in our communities that people need,” said Ted Boettner, of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
But supporters of income tax reduction say it will help stimulate the state economy with more people spending. However, tax increases remain unpopular.
“Our sales tax is regressive in that it taxes everybody, but it also taxes poor people worse than it does rich people… We should broaden the base, and leave the rate at 6 percent,” said Del. Ron Walters, (R) Kanawha.
There will likely be a separate gas tax proposal in a state roads bond plan that will need voter approval.
“Late Thursday House Speaker Tim Armstead issued a statement saying the talks were ‘productive’ and that he was ‘optimistic’ they eventually get a deal.The full legislature returns on Monday to resume the special session on the budget,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.