BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia lawmakers are looking for ways to attract business to the state, and one way is by asking voters for permission to amend the State’s Constitution.

One of the amendment on the November 8th ballot, Amendment Two, has Raleigh County Commissioners and those in other counties worried about public schools and a future statewide sales tax hike. The amendment would eliminate personal property taxes on vehicles and other property, about $500 million from the 55 counties.

To make up for personal property taxes, lawmakers have pledged to send state tax dollars to each county, based on what each county would’ve collected, at a rate of 110 percent. County commissioners across the state oppose the move.

In Raleigh County, personal property tax collections amount to around $18 million, said Raleigh Commission President David Tolliver. Of those collections, 73 percent are allocated to the Raleigh Board of Education, he added.

Tolliver said he has spoken with Raleigh Schools Superintendent David Price. Both Price and Tolliver have concerns about the future of public education if the personal property tax is eradicated and left to state lawmakers to disburse.

Tolliver said the Hope Scholarship, a move by state lawmakers to provide state funds for students who leave the public school system, could be detrimental to the local public school system.

Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit recently ruled the scholarship goes against the state Constitution, but Tolliver pointed out that an appellate court could overturn Tabit’s decision. Tolliver said the potential loss of local school funds to private schools leaves Raleigh schools particularly dependent on receiving state tax dollars from lawmakers.

“Only thing we can do, and, of course, everybody is talking about this ,all the commissioners,” said Tolliver. “Well, do we put our trust in the legislature to do what’s right?”

State lawmakers point out that the state budget has a surplus. They said they don’t expect the state to have financial hardship in the foreseeable future.

Sen. Rollan Roberts (District 9) said on Wednesday, Aug. 10 2022, that the state budget is healthy. He said Amendment Two won’t affect public education and that it gives most West Virginians a tax break, which is the goal of the amendment.

“We are helping everybody in the state because poor people, rural people, they have their vehicles,” said Roberts. “So the taxpayer break will go out to most everyone across the state.”

Tolliver said he has concerns that state lawmakers will likely raise the state sales tax, which is currently six percent, to offset the loss of property taxes.

“I know that Tennesee has no personal property tax, but, the thing i,s their sales tax is 9.5 percent on everything you buy,” Tolliver said.

Roberts said a voter passage of Amendment Two will not automatically lead to a raise in the state sales tax. He added, however, legislators have considered raising the sales tax in the past and likely will consider it again.

“I think, as time goes on, every single state that has been successful in reducing or eliminating the income tax significantly has raised the sales tax, correspondingly,” Roberts noted.