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West Virginia Governor Jim Justice Calls for Tax Reform Summit

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice on Friday called for a “summit meeting” with House and Senate members of both parties on the proposals to eliminate the state income tax.

The summit would be held noon Monday at the Cultural Center, Justice said during his coronavirus update Friday morning. It would include the House and Senate majority leaders and finance chairmen, among others, he said.

“And we’re going to have a summit on the most important item that has come across West Virginia’s desk … forever,” Justice said.

The goal would be how to come up with a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the income tax repeal and the governor’s, or a new plan, he said.

The House on Monday passed a personal income tax bill, House Bill 3300, with an incremental phase out among the provisions. HB 3300 was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to reduce personal income tax rates and raise the consumer sales and use tax from 6% to 8.5% to replace the revenue loss.

The 2021 regular session of the Legislature ends midnight April 10.The governor has been an ardent, vocal supporter of the income tax elimination and has had numerous town hall and virtual meetings. The result would be residents with more money to spend, economic development and more people moving to West Virginia, he said.

Opponents of Justice’s proposal include the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“There will be more dresses sold at the dress store. There will be more guns sold at the gun shop. There will be more soda drinks drank. There will be more beer sold,” Justice said.

Statements about the meeting from the speaker of the House and president of the Senate were not immediately available Friday. An invitation of the meeting was received by both chambers after the briefing.

“I am perfectly willing to compromise in every way on my stuff,” Justice said.

Justice also said the press should cover the meeting.

“Bring the media there, not for questions, just to view. Bring the media there. Let’s be a thousand percent transparent. Lets don’t hide behind closed doors,” he said.

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