MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is one of more than a dozen attorneys-general across the U.S. challenging the federal government on tax policy. At the center of the issue are all those COVID relief funds from Washington: Congress has imposed a restriction that states cannot cut taxes and offset that revenue from the stimulus program.
Morrisey says that is not only unconstitutional but also comes at a time when the West Virginia legislature has been hard at work on a sweeping tax-cut plan that was in the works long before the U.S. Treasury started sending money to help states pull through the pandemic.
“The COVID law had a number of little midnight provisions that were tucked in,” Morrisey said. “One of them tries to forbid states from lowering taxes.”
In theory, says Morrisey, when the West Virginia legislature finishes its work this month, it could send a bill to Governor Jim Justice lowering taxes. What if Washington doesn’t like it?
“All that money could be confiscated by the feds,” Morrisey insisted. “That’s ridiculous.”
That’s why Morrisey and about a quarter of all the state attorneys general are going to federal court.
“I want to give West Virginians the flexibility they need regardless of the broader tax debate right now,” said Morrisey. “It will help to make sure that West Virginia has the flexibility to solve its own problems.”
Morrisey calls the restriction “an invasion of state sovereignty,” but the Biden Administration insists restrictions on federal funds are perfectly legitimate.