House votes to sub its own revenue bill into Senate’s

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates knocked the state revenue ball back into the Senate’s court again today.

After a long debate, delegates voted 64-24 to insert a plan earlier backed by the House into a revenue bill the Senate passed the prior night.

The full bill later passed, 67-22. So this version goes back to the Senate.

Delegates also passed a roads funding bill backed by Governor Justice.

The amendment that passed was described by its sponsors, Republicans Eric Nelson and John Shott and Democrat Isaac Sponaugle, as a version of what most of a conference committee backed earlier this week.

The conference committee’s report did not come to either house floor because Senate Republicans on the committee did not sign the report.

Speaking to reporters after the morning floor session, House Speaker Tim Armstead said that situation was one of the big motivators for delegates.

“I think we felt very strongly that the majority of the members of that conference committee had signed that, and I think that truly reflects the majority of the Legislature as a whole,” said Armstead, R-Kanawha.

“It also reflected the House’s sentiment as we’ve said through many votes this session that the personal income tax reforms are not something we think should take place this year.”

The House plan includes no sales tax increase and no income tax reduction, but it does extend the sales tax to some industries that were not previously subject to the tax. It also does not include Gov. Justice’s tiered coal severance tax structure.

The House plan raises an estimated $67 million in additional revenue for the coming fiscal year.

The Senate plan would raise the sales tax to 6.5 percent and reduces personal income taxes by an average 5 percent starting Jan. 1, 2018, followed by triggered 5 percent reductions over three following years.

The Senate’s proposal would also extend the sales tax to additional economic sectors. It includes the tiered severance tax proposal. That proposal raises an estimated $92 million for the coming fiscal year.

Earlier, the House of Delegates rejected a motion to dismiss a revenue bill passed by the state Senate.

Some Republicans in the House argued that the bill amounts to a tax increase. Others, along with Democrats, argued that the bill should be considered as a way to resolve the state budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, offered the motion to dismiss.

Here’s that vote.

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