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.