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Justice: income tax bill to be introduced “this week”

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 4:54 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - Gov. Jim Justice Tuesday held his third town hall meeting in 10 days on his proposal to ultimately eliminate West Virginia’s income tax.

The governor, in the hour-long town hall, took questions mainly from West Virginia residents.

He said legislation on that proposal would be introduced some time this week-three weeks after he discussed it in his State of the State Address on the first day of the legislative session.

The session, which ends in mid-April, is now more than a third completed, and a deadline to submit bills for consideration is approaching in both the House of Delegates and the Senate later this month.

Justice last week, in previous town halls, says previously-approved legislative bills, including a controversial “Right to Work” law, didn’t help the state achieve economic growth.

He seemed to back off those comments Tuesday, although he suggested his “Roads to Progress” program he heavily promoted in his first year in office-and for which he announced projects on Monday-hasn’t gone far enough to promote the state’s economy.

He says his tax proposal is the final hurdle.

”When it all really boils down to it, we still need to get across the steepest part of the mountain. The steepest part of the mountain is always near the top, and if we don’t move and move now, we’ll slide back.”

Wood County Delegate Vernon Criss, who is a member of the House Finance Committee, says lawmakers are not sure about the governor’s final plan-not just for eliminating the tax, but making up for what it will cost the state in tax revenue.

Another problem, says Criss, is getting a consensus of House and Senate members on a bill that will pass.

”We’re better than a third of the way through the session,” Criss said Tuesday, “and if there’s going to be a bill to deal with the reduction of the personal income tax, it’s surely going to have to happen pretty soon, or we’re just going to run out of time in our 60-day session.”

Justice, acknowledging the proposal is a “big lift”, has suggested a number of increases in other taxes to make up for the revenue losses.

He said Tuesday he’s also proposing tax rebate checks be sent to lower-income people affected by those offsetting tax hikes.

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