SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — We’re just weeks away from the start of the next session of the West Virginia legislature. Some lawmakers are already at the capital making plans. Others are in their districts before heading to Charleston.
Gov. Jim Justice will set the agenda with his State of the State address. An agenda that last year called for the elimination of the state income tax. That didn’t go over very well. Even the Republican-dominated legislature rejected the proposal unanimously. This year? With Christmastime pay hikes for state employees?
“I don’t think there’s going to be room to take $2 billion out of a $4.5 billion general fund which is what doing away with the income tax would cost,” said Delegate John Doyle (D – W.Va.).
Don’t expect those tax cut proposals to come back, Doyle said, citing the experience in the Republican-dominated Georgia legislature.
“The Republican chair of the House Budget Committee said, ‘OK fine. Do away with the income tax? We can do it two ways. Way number one: triple the sales tax by 17%. Way number two: eliminate K through 12 education.'”
For example, Doyle expects some tax issues to surface: inventory valuation and personal property tax on vehicles. As for last year’s charter school legislation? That’s tied up in the courts, for now anyway.
“I think we’re going have to wait until the state supreme court decides the appeal and that I doubt would happen until May at the earliest,” says Doyle.
Doyle is also watching carefully the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion rights which could trigger state legislation. A federal ruling from the justices is expected in June.
“But that would not happen until next year, not this coming year,” says Doyle.
The legislative session will go from Jan. to March. Then, on the first night of next month’s session of the legislature, Gov. Jim Justice will deliver his State of the State address.