Existing Taxes Are a Struggle

Before voting on the next package of tax and budget proposals it is hoped will be presented to them within a few days, West Virginia legislators ought to take a look at state revenue collections.

After two failures to agree on taxes, lawmakers are involved in a new round of negotiations. Many members of the House of Delegates vow to persist in the no-new-taxes stance that prompted them to vote against a state Senate revenue plan.

Gov. Jim Justice and senators want their tax proposal to be used as the basis for a new state budget. But delegates worry the reform plan — in essence, phasing out personal income taxes while increasing others — takes too much out of Mountain State residents’ pockets.

Revenue reports from April, 10 months into the fiscal year, reinforce the House position.

At months’ end, the two biggest components of the budget, consumer sales and personal income taxes, were running a combined total of nearly $158 million behind projections. That is evidence many West Virginia households are struggling.

Do the math: Justice wants about $300 million in new taxes. Yet the very people who will have to pay them are $158 million behind what legislators and then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin expected last year.

The bottom line in higher taxes, then, is this:

West Virginians just don’t have the money to give.

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