Ashton Marra Published

Speaker: House Isn't Budging on Tax Reform


Members of the House are not budging on reforming the state’s tax code the way Gov. Jim Justice and now Senators on both sides of the aisle want to.

Delegates voted Friday afternoon in favor of an amended bill that leaves the state’s sales tax at 6 percent, but gets rid of a number of exemptions, implementing the tax on cell phones, gym memberships and many other goods and services.

The original version of the bill—which was approved by a bi-partisan vote in the Senate late Thursday night—would have increased the sales tax to 6 and a half percent and reduced the state’s personal income tax.

The Senate bill was yet another push toward the tax reform initiatives the chamber has been attempting to push through the legislative process since February.

But House Speaker Tim Armstead said his chamber is not interested in that type of tax reform.

“If we’re truly going to do tax reform, let’s not do it in this Christmas tree fashion where we continue to start with the personal income tax to get this segment of votes and add this and take that away,” he said. “Let’s do it from top to bottom and do it in a way that makes sense.”

The sales tax bill approved in the House Friday will be the base of the chamber’s budget bill, but must still be approved in the Senate.

Lawmakers have until June 30 to pass a budget to avoid a government shutdown.