CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House Minority Leader Tim Armstead says he wants Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to talk realistically about the current condition of West Virginia’s economy when he gives his State of the State Address on Wednesday night.
“If the Governor comes out and talks about, you know, ‘The state of the state is good and we’re in great shape and everything’s rosy,’ I just don’t think that’s an accurate picture,” said Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40).
As legislators prepare for the start of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session on Wednesday, Armstead said Governor Tomblin and other lawmakers cannot ignore West Virginia’s 48th ranking for job creation and the fact that the state was just one of two to lose population during the last year.
“We need to take some very strong steps to turn our economy around and we just have not been willing, as a legislature, and the legislative leadership has not been willing to do that,” said Armstead on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
He said lawmakers could start by taking serious steps to reform West Virginia’s tax code. Even though reductions recently took effect for both the business franchise tax and the corporate net income tax, Armstead said it’s not enough.
“We still have taxes on our books that are not competitive. We still have infrastructure issues that we need to address. We still have overregulation in a lot of areas,” he said. “But the biggest problem is, both on a personal basis and on a job creation basis, we’re just overtaxed in this state.”
On Sunday night, House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) unveiled the first part of the session platform for House Democrats. The initial five measures address government accountability and include proposals to deal with conflicts of interest for the state attorney general and increase oversight of how the state spends taxpayer money
Armstead said Republicans have proposed similar measures in the past. “We have to see if they’re really serious about cracking down on ethical violations and corruption in state government and a local level and we certainly are serious about that and we want to pursue that,” he said.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will talk about his session priorities when he delivers his State of the State Address on Wednesday night. MetroNews will bring you coverage of that speech on the MetroNews Radio Network and online at wvmetronews.com.
The session continues through Saturday, March 8.