CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia legislature has until Sunday to jointly come to an agreement on whether the state will eliminate its personal income tax.
Local policy analysts are concerned about what may be in, or left out of a bill with only three days left to debate it.
In a close vote, the West Virginia senate passed a last-minute amended version of the state income tax repeal bill. As of Thursday afternoon, the house is now waiting to receive that modified version and decide whether to agree with the changes.
The timeline is so tight, observers fear what the final product might look like.
WV Center of Budget Policy’s Senior Policy Analyst, Sean O’Leary said, “they would have to create a conference committee with members of both the House and the Senate, would come to together and try to workout a compromise and then that compromise would have to be accepted by both the full House and the full Senate.”
House democrat leaders are already expressing opposition to the senate’s changes, which includes raising the state sales tax to eight percent.
House Minority Leader, State Sen. Doug Skaff Jr. (D-Kanawha) and Minority Whip, State Sen. Shawn Fluharty (D-Ohio) said, “this is not a tax cut; this is a tax shift. We stand against the plan that senate republicans passed last night.”
O’Leary said the senate’s version of the bill, compared to the house’s version, is not fiscally phased out over the years.
“It’s a lot more murky, a lot less clear of after that first cut, when will there be another cut, how soon, how much, what will the impact on the budget look like,” said O’Leary.
Democrats are especially critical of Republican State Sen. Eric Tarr (R-Putnam), the driving force behind the senate version.
State Sen. Michael Romano (D-Harrison) said, “that is one man’s vision for West Virginia. He’s a physical therapist and I don’t know about you but I don’t want a physical therapist making tax decisions for me.”
Governor Jim Justice extended the legislative session by one day to give the house a little more time to reach and agreement on the tax repeal, knowing republicans already have a super-majority in the house.