CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The bill establishing the West Virginia Future Fund got a boost Monday when it won approval in the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee.

The bill, originally passed by the state Senate, would take excess monies in severance taxes for the establishment of the fund. It would only kick in when the annual revenues top $75 million. The fund would take 25 percent of the excess. The money can only be used for economic development, infrastructure and education enhancement.

State Senate President Jeff Kessler came up with the proposal to take advantage of the drilling in the Marcellus shale.

“I kind of view it as a retirement account,” Pendleton County Del. Isaac Sponaugle said. “Set a little bit aside and save it for these projects that we know we’re going to have coming up with our roads, our bridges, numerous items around the state.”

Del. Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, also supported the bill. He said a Future Fund would help with the up and down times of the extraction industries.

“As a delegate from the coalfields, I think some of our legislatures from the past have missed a prime opportunity to do this same thing with the coal severance tax,” Marcum said.

The bill says the money in the fund can’t be touched until 2020, only the investment income can be appropriated and the money can only be used in the designated areas.

The proposal heads next to the House Finance Committee for consideration.

 

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Comments

  • joeyjojo

    Such a bad idea it's guaranteed to pass the legislature. Nothing but a slush fund for Kesslers Kronies to get rich "managing".

  • Aaron

    I am amazed that our legislature talks of saving dollars for our future when our roads are crumbling about us. If our leaders want to provide for "economic development" they will do so in the form of infrastructure funding. Nothing will help business more than providing quality roads and bridges to move their product.

    Currently projects that need completed are US Route 35, Corridor H, the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, the widening of Route 2 from Parkersburg to Weirton and the widening of Interstate 64 from Nitro, including a new bridge between Nitro and St. Albans with new exit ramps at both to the Kentucky state line.

    From there, DOH Engineers can find needed projects in every district that should be addressed. Projects such as a by-pass from I-64 west of Charleston to both I-77 North and Corridor G south, a viable artery from Grand Central Ave in Parkersburg/Vienna to I-77, straightening and widening Route 7 from New Martinsville to Morgantown and major improvements in Morgantown including a bypass from Star City along the river to downtown and I-68 are but a few desperately needed projects. I'm sure readers from every other district could post suggestions from their districts that are needed as well.

    What's truly sad is that Governor Tomblin put together a blue ribbon panel of transportation experts to come up with solutions to fund our future infrastructure needs at about the same time Senator Kessler was promoting his future fund idea and NONE of our leaders from either private industry or public officials were smart enough to put 2 and 2 together and say hey, we've got this huge potential for revenue from natural gas and we've got this desperate need for infrastructure funding, why don’t we do combine the two?

    Leadership at its finest.

  • TB

    It is not the function of government to "save" tax dollars. Should be a zero sum game.

    "Jeff Kessler came up with the proposal to take advantage of the drilling in the Marcellus Shale" - kind of says it all right there!

  • Debra

    I'll believe we're going to start getting all this money when I see it. We have major road work that needs to be done now. This Futures Fund will just be fodder for political use. It's a big mistake. That money should be allocated to specific causes, like, education and roads.

  • Jeff

    Good to see the funds allocated to such specific uses like "economic development." This should raise a red flag for everyone. Any pet project or slush fund can be finagled to fit that description.

  • Aaron

    We should spend the money on infrastructure AFTER we close funding shortfalls.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Is it too late to raise the coal severance tax,
    Delegate Marcum? Here's a grand opportunity to correct a "missed prime opportunity".

    Well?

    • Mike

      Great idea. Go ahead and heap more taxes on coal while it fights to survive Obama's insane environmental and economic policies.

      What you should be for is having the gas industry bond haul roads and reclamation sites just like coal so that damage is remediated by the users.

      Additionally, make sure the severance tax on gas is equivalent to coal on a value per mmbtu basis.

      The state will see the true carnage in lost jobs and severance tax revenue this year so hold on....

      • ThatGuyOverThere

        We do have to bond haul roads, we have to fix the roads once we are finished with them. We have 3 levels of bonding for different types or roads. and we DO fix what we break...I have a meeting with the DEP and multiple operators to hatch out a plan on how to fix some routes in North Central WV.

        • WV Worker

          Why would the DEP be involved inv planning on how to fixing the roads? What about the DOH? They are responsible for maintaining the roads