CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Call it the battle of the income tax cut plans because there are two competing ideas under the Capitol dome in Charleston, West Virginia. Lawmakers were in session Monday, even though today, Monday, Jan. 16, is a federal and state holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The House and Senate will have at least two different tax cuts ideas to discuss and perhaps even more. First, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice offered to cut income taxes for all by 50% phased in over the next three years.

Now, even though they are a small minority, House Democrats will offer an amendment Tuesday, Jan. 17. It would eliminate all income taxes for those making $80,000 a year or less.
Those who make above $80,000 would pay 6.5%. Many Republicans back the governor, but Democrats say their plan is more fair.

“We can give a zero tax to everybody below $80,000. That’s teachers and police officers and retirees of all types, military, state retirees. I mean, you can just think about the list, almost everybody that you see in your day would pay no state income tax,” said Del. Larry Rowe, (D) Kanawha, the Finance Committee Minority Chair.

“We’ve seen record surpluses, and I think it’s incumbent upon us to give that back to the taxpayers. And that’s what this income tax does. The reduction gives directly back to the taxpayers,” said Del. Geoff Foster, (R) Putnam.

“We need to put this money back in the hands of taxpayers so they can do what they do with it. They can spend it things of concern to them – their family, their growth, business, their business. However they wish to do it. It’s their money,” said Del. Marty Gearheart, (R) Mercer.

Democrats are realistic about their plan’s chances. After all, they hold just 12 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates.

Again, Tuesday is the amendment phase. We could see the final vote on the governor’s tax cut plan on Wednesday, though House leaders have the option to move the vote up to Tuesday.