CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice hopes state lawmakers award him a tax credit for three projects he’s planning adjacent to his historic resort in Greenbrier County.
The proposal (HB4184) went before members of the state Senate Finance Committee for the first time Friday evening, the next-to-last day of the 60-day legislative session.
The first of Justice’s projects—a state-of-the-art outpatient medical facility—was originally announced in August 2011 and is apparently ready for construction, but current state law would not provide a tax break on the facility until it is operational.
The plan provides a 25-percent credit against the “corporate net income tax,” that would be credited over 10 years and limited to $2.5 million annually. The other two projects would be eligible for tax breaks under the West Virginia Tourism Development Act, which would be revived under the proposed bill.
Lobbyist Larry Puccio, who represents Justice, told the committee the medical clinic will be a $90 million project “that will bring money in from many different countries and many different states.”
As Justice previously announced, world-renowned Dr. James Andrews and associates will be working at the clinic three-days a week. Puccio told the committee the 40-acre site near the Greenbrier has been readied for construction in recent months and the Certificate of Need required from the state Health Care Authority should be granted by the end of the year.
Puccio said the other two projects Justice is planning are significant, though thy have yet to be announced publicly. He said all three projects would result in a $400 million investment.
Sen. Clark Barnes (R-Randolph) questioned the timing of the tax credit proposal.
“Why at this point do you need to come back and get tax credits for Mr. Justice?” Barnes said. “I’ve been in business a long time and I know when I plan a business, when I plan an office, I plan to pay for it myself. I don’t come to the state and ask for tax credits.
“I wouldn’t even think about it after the project is about done. What is the reason at this point that Mr. Justice should be getting tax credits for a project that he has already planned for a long time and already begun?”
Puccio said Justice thought all three projects would be eligible for tax breaks under the Tourism Development Act. However, because a medical facility doesn’t produce revenues from sales tax, the medical facility would not be eligible. That’s why they are seeking the legislation.
Finance committee members passed the bill. The legislation will be up for final reading Saturday morning in the Senate.
The Tomblin administration supports the bill, according to Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Pizatella, whol told the committee the administration insisted the proposed credit be narrowly crafted only allowing the Greenbrier to be eligible.