Senate President Jeff Kessler

Senate President Jeff Kessler says now is the time to create a long term savings account for the state.

He has again proposed the creation of the West Virginia Future Fund at the State House, a fund that would save a portion of any future increases to severance tax revenue collections.

“Now, I think, is the time to start setting aside some money for infrastructure improvements, the future, a savings account, and dedicate that money for the long term prosperity of our state,” Senator Kessler said.

He is from Marshall County where the natural gas industry is booming largely because of developments in the Marcellus shale.

“That growth is only beginning.  We’re only starting to see the tip of the iceberg of the growth.  You’re going to see that, not only double, but quadruple again and again and again, not only in Marshall County, but throughout the state,” the Senate President said.

“I think we need to be forward thinking and say, ‘Let’s save some of that money.’”

His proposal would set a baseline for severance tax collections and then take 25% of any amount over that baseline, in the coming years, and automatically bank the money for an endowment that could not be tapped into for at least 20 years.

Senator Kessler estimates the permanent legacy fund, as he envisions it, could one day hold several billion dollars.

“Had we done something similar to this with coal a hundred years ago, we would have been the richest state in the nation rather than, in many respects, at the bottom rung on a lot of economic indicators,” Senator Kessler said.

He points to Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming as examples of states that have cashed in on their natural resources by taking steps for the future and says West Virginia needs to start saving before the increases in severance taxes start being allocated to other areas.

The first stop for SB 167, which would create the West Virginia Future Fund, is the Senate Economic Development Committee.

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  • Lisa Amoroso

    Very insightful and wise. I look forward to the details of this fund in terms of the type of futuristic infrastructural improvements. Good job President Kessler protecting WV's future.

  • harry price

    What about the forgotten state employees that create savings, through efficient and effective hard work? 2 raises since 2005.

    • StateEmployee

      Some employees who work over 15 years didn't even get those raises and continue not to... also, some of the new employee raises don't even cover the costs of living increases. I will also say, that many new employees are working jobs that 3-4 people used to work at the lowest pay scale within those past employees.

  • C.Hoffman

    That plan actually makes a lot of sense. The only thing I don't like about is politicans will be in charge of it and eventually an entire bureaucracy will be built around it to pilfer, misuse and waste for the benefit of the connected few. Let's hear about the plan to ensure business as usual will not apply to the the fund. Tansparency would be paramount. Perhaps citizen review and private administration of the fund competitively bid and contracted with final determination by the citizens.