Governor Jim Justice has launched the biggest economic initiative of his tenure—legislation to eliminate the state income tax, beginning with a 60 percent reduction that will cut over $1 billion from the tax burden of West Virginians.
It is an audacious plan that Justice boldly predicts will be historic for the future of the state. “Today, March the Fourth, is a day West Virginia will remember forever and ever,” Justice said as he unveiled specifics of the proposal on MetroNews Talkline Thursday.
The second half of the tax plan is just as momentous as the cut—$903 million in increased or new taxes to offset the lost revenue from the tax reduction.
There is so much to unpack here, and Brad McElhinny’s story is a good place to start.
Legislators, interest groups and the state’s citizens will spend the coming weeks digesting the proposal, while trying to decide how the myriad changes will impact their individual returns, their businesses and their state.
We will do the same here at MetroNews. But let’s start here: Jim Justice has been elected twice—with 65 percent of the vote the second time. His handling of the pandemic increased his trust among the voters.
Justice has more than earned the opportunity to propose and push a bold plan that reflects his vision for the state. This plan is rooted in Justice’s deeply held belief that West Virginia deserves better.
That is the kind of passion that inspires confidence and instills hope. It accurately reflects the desire of West Virginians who believe our state has significant untapped potential. That mind-set is a refreshing and encouraging departure from the negativity that too often serves as a yoke weighing us down.
Justice deserves credit for proposing a big idea, rather than simply nibbling at the margins or just idling during his second term. Our state needs to break the debilitating crutch of maintaining the status quo.
Maybe Justice’s plan does that, or maybe it doesn’t. But after weeks of generalizations by the administration, we now have the specifics.
At the very least, the proposal will engage policy makers and every day West Virginians in thought-provoking discussions about the many elements of the plan. It will get us thinking more about the kinds of policies we need to move West Virginia ahead.
Let’s have the debate.