Greg Babe, the retiring president and chief executive officer of Bayer Corp. USA and Bayer MaterialScience, criticized West Virginia's archaic tax system in a recent speech in Charleston.
He noted that our state is not competitive with neighboring states. Our tax structure penalizes job creators who would invest in our communities.
He said, "The sad truth is that West Virginia is not competitive with other states in terms of attracting and retaining industry and well-paying jobs. The state's tax structure continues to penalize business investment in plant sites, mines and assembly lines. ... These are the economic engines that create real value and jobs. For example, West Virginia taxes industrial machinery, equipment and inventory at twice the level it taxes residential property. Contrast that with Pennsylvania and Ohio," which have no such taxes.
Mr. Babe is correct and he's certainly not the first to explain why West Virginia's irrational tax structure makes job creation and prosperity nearly impossible. So why has our Legislature not attempted to correct the problem? Could it be that the majority of members are more concerned with protecting the special interests that fund their campaigns to bother with any effort to solve the real problems facing the residents of their districts?
Until our lawmakers agree to reform taxes in a coherent - not piecemeal - fashion, business capital investment and jobs will continue to go to other states.