Revenue collections surge to first quarter records; Justice administration says pandemic relief funding has played role, not sure how much

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s revenue collections exceeded estimates by more than $10 million in September and set records in doing so, according to the Justice administration.

The overall $423.6 million collected included nearly $194 million in Personal Income Taxes and $129.3 million Consume Sales Tax. State Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said at a Thursday media briefing the three month, first quarter, total of those taxes was recording breaking.

Dave Hardy

“We collected nearly $1 billion (over three months) and we set records on both of those numbers,” Hardy said.

Those two taxes makes up approximately 75 percent of the state’s revenues. Personal Income Tax collected $614 million for the quarter and Consumer Sales Tax brought in $351 million.

Gov. Jim Justice was pleased with the numbers and said West Virginia continues to “surprise the world.”

The state is now $90 million ahead of estimates for the fiscal year. Justice said Thursday the state has an excess cash flow of nearly $298 million. The Justice administration reported a revenue surplus of $44 million in July fueled by Justice’s move to push back the due date for state taxes from April 15 to July 15 because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, neither Justice nor Hardy will able to completely explain what impact the nearly $3 billion the state has received in federal funding linked to the pandemic has positively impacted revenue collections. Hardy said the $1.25 billion from the CARES Act and the nearly $1,75 billion in targeted (bucket) grants for various entities is difficult to quantify.

“That’s very complex and it would probably take decades to try and model out to the penny what affect that has on the collection numbers that we see here today,” Hardy said. “But remember the underlying premise–they are here because of economic damage to begin with.”

Justice said the next step the state needs to take is to cut taxes.

“Do you know what we need to do more than anything as we move forward with this state? We need to get on a glide path to eliminate our state income tax,” Justice said.

Chamber endorsement

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce this week announced its endorsement of Justice in his reelection bid against Kanawha County Commissioner, Democratic nominee Ben Salango.

Steve Roberts

The Chamber backed Republican Bill Cole in the race against Justice four years ago when Justice was a registered Democrat. Chamber President Steve Roberts said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” Justice now has a record.

“We now have almost four years of experience with Jim Justice and frankly, nobody here has built the number of roads and nobody has managed health care (like him),” Roberts said.

The Salango campaign countered Thursday with its announcement that the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Salango.

“When the Charleston Chamber endorses a candidate, we believe that he or she will make a strong partner and advocate for policies that advance Kanawha County and West Virginia,” Chamber president/CEO Steve Rubin said in a release.

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