Governor Jim Justice hosts town hall in Parkersburg

WTAP News @ 6 - Governor Jim Justice hosts town hall in Parkersburg
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:30 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Governor Jim Justice hosted a town hall in Parkersburg to discuss his plan to cut West Virginia’s state income tax by 50% over the next three years.

Governor Jim Justice spoke and listened to a large crowd of Wood County residents on the morning of January 25th. This town hall in Parkersburg is the first of three planned by Justice as he travels across the state to extoll the virtues of his tax cut plan.

The bill has been passed by the House of Delegates, but its fate is currently unknown as it sits in the Senate Finance Committee.

Justice was joined by his secretary of revenue Dave Hardy, as well as the House Finance Committee Chair, Wood County Delegate Vernon Criss, both of whom gave the income tax bill their support. “We are asking for your help to let the State Senate know that this is a plan that’s going to work,” Delegate Criss said.

Despite the bill’s less than enthusiastic response in the Senate, Governor Justice says he still believes that a flat tax cut like the one he’s proposing is a way to bring tax relief to West Virginians that has a realistic chance of passing both houses of the state legislature. “This has got to get through the senate and the house,” the governor said. “I think everyone believes that a proportionate, across-the-board cut, that is an equal amount to everybody, has a lot better chance of getting through everybody.”

The bill has come under some scrutiny. Concerns have been raised because its passage would necessitate the state depending on other sources of revenue to make up for the halved income tax. Some of those other sources of revenue aren’t completely stable. Severance tax revenue, for instance, depends on the volatile price of energy.

Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said they’ve considered these concerns and planned accordingly. “One thing that we know is there’s a big demand for the natural gas, and we even projected that the prices are probably going to come down slightly, maybe more,” Hardy said. “But even given that, the volume is very, very high, because West Virginia is blessed with a lot of natural gas, and we’re starting to get access to all that natural gas, and American is hungry for it.”

It remains to be seen if the state senate will come around to Governor Justice’s tax cut plan.