Senators pass a resolution in support of property tax cuts and shelve the governor’s plan

Senators passed a resolution in support of a plan to cut personal property taxes in the future and gave no hint that they would even consider the income tax cut that Gov. Jim Justice pushed in a special session.

The resolution was called “Relating to meaningful tax reform and relief.”

Senate leaders said the resolution came about because the special session call would not allow deviation from what the governor proposed.

Eric Tarr

“We really didn’t get to consider this this session as a bill because the call that we’re under right now introduced a bill just on income tax, and it’s very specific and the four corners of that call were just the bill itself that the governor gave us, which was a 10 percent income tax cut,” said Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam.

“Had we had the opportunity, as requested multiple times ahead of this session to speak with the governor, we would have had a chance to introduce this before we were actually called in and got that notification with the rest of the state on the news.”

Senate leaders have said they support an income tax cut, but they have wanted to continue laying the groundwork for a personal property tax cut for automobiles and businesses’ machinery and inventory. Moving on that depends on the outcome of a November vote by citizens on a proposed constitutional amendment.

The resolution that passed today outlined the Senate leadership’s proposal and also cast doubt on the impact of what Governor Justice has wanted to do.

“While committed to a plan for income tax relief, the Senate does not believe that reducing the average West Virginia taxpayer’s monthly income tax liability by $20 will be an economic driver nor provide meaningful relief to the taxpayer,” the resolution states.

Tarr presented a slide presentation on what the Senate majority wants to do over time. He said that work has gone on for months and months, “rather than an impromptu idea that comes out.”

He looked ahead to what the governor’s reaction might be.

“What if, the next press conference that comes out of the governor’s office, he comes out and says ‘You know what, I tried I tried, I tried for West Virginia and that doggone Senate, they didn’t let that happen for you.’ And he’s going to say you guys didn’t vote for a tax cut. I’m just wondering. Maybe that’s not the case,” Tarr said.

The senator then imagined the reaction of the governor’s beloved dog.

“I know that Babydog, as she’s walking out of that Governor’s Office and smelling that pile — it’s not her pile.”

The governor talked about an income tax cut of about 10 percent for a few weeks and then announced a proposal to be considered in this week’s special legislative session — with the brackets for lower wage earners getting slightly higher breaks by percentage.

The House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed the income tax cut bill on Thursday. Some delegates expressed concern then that the Senate would just knock it down.

Jim Justice

Justice, speaking today on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” praised delegates and criticized the Senate plan.

He acknowledged a communication gap with Tarr and Senate President Blair, but said that wasn’t his fault.

“This is immediate money going back to the taxpayers of West Virginia, their money,” Justice said of the proposed income tax cut. “This is designed for workers of the state of West Virginia versus maybe big, giant companies.”


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