CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Some 17 state lawmakers will be North Dakota-bound on Wednesday, aiming to learn more about that state’s legacy fund.

The North Dakota Legacy Fund, created in 2011, has been funded with oil and gas tax revenues and reached $1 billion within 20 months. West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), who will be leading the trip, has proposed a similar idea for the Mountain State the past three years.

“Why not use some of the resources that we have that are in plentiful supply, that are in great demand to create wealth and opportunities for the future generations and, even in the short term, to give tax relief, etc. for the citizens of our state?”

For West Virginia, Kessler’s proposal would set a baseline for severance tax collections and take between 20 percent and 25 percent of any amount over that baseline, creating an endowment that could not be accessed for at least 20 years.

Kessler said West Virginia has not been good at saving revenues generated by the state’s natural resources.

“We’ve not set aside any of the monies,” he said. “We’ve spent everything that’s come in every year and, as lawmakers, it seems like all we every worry about is balancing this year’s budget, this year’s budget, this year’s budget and, at the end of the day, we’ve done that for 100 years and you see where we’re at.”

In addition to the 17 lawmakers, others making the trip include Kenny Perdue, WV AFL-CIO; Steve Scholotterbeck, Joe Dawley and Greg Hoyer, EQT Production; Bob Orndorff, Dominion Energy; Corky DeMarco, West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association; Ted Boettner, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and Rick Wilson, West Virginia Economic Justice Project.

“I think the most important thing we can come back with is an understanding that this isn’t just Pollyanna, pie-in-the-sky dreaming,” said Kessler.

“A state very similar to ours—very extraction-heavy industry in that area historically, same as us—have actually already done it, looked at it, they’ve implemented it and it’s working quite well.”

He was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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  • CaptainQ

    Waste of time and taxpayer money.

    The ruling Democratic Party junta in WV would NEVER EVER consider doing this! Why? Because it's actually a GOOD idea.

    Good ideas go to Charleston to DIE in this state.....

  • Jeffrey

    Can't pay our bills, but lets put more money into a 2nd rainy day fund (the first ones full) so some of Kesslers cronies can make money "managing" it for us.

    • stophating


      You are exactly correct.... Let's slash the budget and put more money into saving....

      the future is what's important..... who cares if current public employees are eligible for medicaid and food stamps because they are paid slave wages, if we save for the future we can cut taxes on the wealthy and encourage investment in the state--that has worked so well that we are cutting spending again.......

  • Matt

    Travel expendatures for these individuals will be posted online right? Use Skype, email and read articles to understand how ND is doing this.

    What a sham!

    • steve

      I guess Senator Kessler couldn't convince anyone to accept his idea so he's taking them on a party/vacation; maybe that'll convince them (or buy them)! Yes, what a sham! Bad idea, Senator Kessler.

  • steve

    It must be complicated Mr Kessler, otherwise a trip to ND would not be necessay. Also, what's to see; isn't it all on paper, can't our legislators read for themselves? Oh a trip to North Dakota ....... now I get it; it's spelled legislative V A C A T I O N with lobbyist friends! A vacation with a party. Why not list the legislators making the trip in the article, too?

  • longbeards

    If coal would have been taxed at .5 a ton over the history of our state our state taxes today would be much lower!!

  • mntrbob

    Apparently, WV has a plentiful supply of money in the travel budget for legislators.

    • bulldog95

      Didnt you know, email, telephones, and skype are all old news. Whats new is traveling long distances on someone elses dime.

  • 2XLPatriot

    "For West Virginia, Kessler’s proposal would set a baseline for severance tax collections and then take between 20 percent and 25 percent of any amount over that baseline, in the coming years, and automatically bank that money for an endowment that could not be tapped into for at least 20 years."

    That is until someones family member or friend needs a new Escalade, mansion, asphalt driveway or politicians need new toilets, posh seating, food expendatures, gas money, furniture and so on. 20-25% for an endowment where WV will benefit from about 0.001% of that because of the above stated, historical habits of corrupt, souless and greedy "name recognized" politicians who live a life in office because the sheep of WV continue to vote like their parents and grandparents instead of using their own brains.

  • ConservativeRealist

    Is North Dakota willing to talk trade?...say they keep our law makers and the related attendees, and we get some trout, mule deer, or other wildlife in exchange?-?-?

  • Dale

    Who's paying for this trip?

    • Jeffrey

      You and I are.