Randy Yohe Published

Justice Tax Cut Proposal Includes Safety Net


Gov. Jim Justice’s 50 percent income tax cut proposal, a highlight of his State of the State address, comes with a big funding hedge against recession and some state comparisons touting success.

In a Thursday media briefing, Justice said in case of unexpected future revenue surplus failures, he will set aside $700 million for a state income tax rainy day fund.

“If we stub our toe just a little bit, and we need to pull from the personal income tax rainy day fund, it’s there as a great insurance policy,” Justice said. “We don’t want to overspend ourselves and get ourselves in trouble.”

In the briefing, Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy said phasing the 50 percent cut over three years will cut the state’s top income tax rate down to 3.25 percent. He said national studies show other states without personal income taxes flourish economically.

Tennessee, Florida and Nevada, they are far and away outperforming the states that do have an income tax,” he said. “Their populations are growing faster and their gross domestic economies are growing faster.”

Hardy said the 50 percent cut will give West Virginia a lower income tax rate than any border state.

“We are going to be lower than all those states surrounding us, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky and Ohio,” Hardy said. “This will create an incentive for people to move into West Virginia and avail themselves of the financial success and prosperity that we’ve had here.”

Hardy presented the governor’s budget and tax cut plan to the House of Delegates finance committee Thursday. Earlier in the day, House Bill 2001, cutting the personal income tax by 10 percent, went to that same committee.

On the Senate side, Finance Committee Chair Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, has publicly said he will not support any tax reform from the governor. Tarr and Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, have alluded to an effort to resurrect the impetus of failed Amendment 2, eliminating the state inventory and machinery property tax. That tax is constitutionally protected.