CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – They were crunching the numbers for breakfast in Charleston Wednesday. It was the annual “Budget Breakfast” sponsored by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Many members of the legislature, business community, and civic groups were there. And while the governor says the state has a projected budget surplus this year of $185,000,000, there are concerns that more could be done.
“More money in the pockets of working families. We could be giving tax cuts to working families. We could be investing in colleges. We could be expanding health care to low-income and middle-income people,” said Ted Boettner, Executive Director, WV Center on Budget and Policy.
Among the ideas kicked around for funding, were an increase in the tobacco tax, and a sugary drink tax. But this is a year where the Governor already made a promise:
“No New Taxes,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia, in his State of the State Address.
Another item continuing to generate controversy, a proposal to get rid of the state’s business inventory tax.
“I think that any time you repeal a tax like that, I do think it encourages, it sparks additional business investment in the state, which is something we should all want,” said Del. Dianna Graves, (R) Kanawha.
But critics say that could cost the state $140,000,000 in revenue it shares with local governments.
“Those that are paying this inventory tax it is very important to us. That money of course, goes to schools, it goes to cities. And the big question for me is, how in the world do we make up that amount of money?” said Del. Ed Evans, (D) McDowell.
If the Business Inventory Tax is repealed, voters would have to decide that in a ballot referendum.
We are now one week into the 60-day Legislative Session, and traditionally the budget is the final thing that gets done. So, a lot can change between now and then.