Associated Press Published

Murray Urges Bigger Cut Than Tomblin Laid Out

Underground Mine, Miners, Mining

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants to give struggling coal producers a break by dropping a tax used to pay down a worker’s compensation debt.

That debt should be paid off this year. Coal’s portion brought in $64 million last budget year.

However, coal giant Murray Energy says eliminating the 56-cent-per-ton levy to unearth coal isn’t enough.

Murray spokesman Gary Broadbent says the company wants coal’s severance tax dropped from 5 to 2 percent.

Department of Revenue spokeswoman Lalena Price says the change would cost well more than $100 million and isn’t something the Tomblin administration can consider.

The state already expects a $384 million gap this budget year and a $466 million gap in 2017. Both are largely due to sharply declining coal and natural gas severance tax money.