Eliminating the WV income tax
Republicans, the Promise Scholarship, and a vulture with a bow tie
Locally, I have seen very little local reporting on this, but the Republican super-majority in the West Virginia legislature looks intent upon eliminating the personal state income tax. At our local Ogden papers, Steven Allen Adams has mentioned it and Mike Myer raised the idea last year. But for something that will negatively impact a majority of West Virginians, it has received little media coverage in the northern panhandle.
The WV income tax makes up a very significant portion of the state’s income and eliminating it will mean that other sources of income will need to be found and/or programs will need to be eliminated. While we’ve received little information from local media, there are sources who are covering this. The best analysis that I’ve found comes from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Some examples of their work:
It's Friday and five days out from the start of the WV legislative session. Budget Beat has all the info you need to know to get ready! https://t.co/70HVFXmSlL pic.twitter.com/mlpCDMUHD8— West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (@WVCBP) February 5, 2021
As lawmakers consider proposals to reduce or eliminate the personal income tax in the state legislative session, remember that will likely mean a big tax shift from the wealthiest in the state to those who have the least & those suffering ongoing hardship due to the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/OOoE1eflXr— West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (@WVCBP) February 7, 2021
Additionally, Phil Kabler at the Charleston Gazette-Mail is also keeping his readers informed. Here is his most recent column in which he argues that West Virginia would follow the path of Kansas if they eliminated the state income tax:
Statehouse Beat: The state Legislature is running the same playbook the state of Kansas ran two decades ago, with such devastating results that the state still is struggling to recover. https://t.co/DIr21ZxbTh— Gazette-Mail (@wvgazettemail) February 7, 2021
(Note – subscription is necessary for the article.)
The elimination of the state income tax would directly affect most West Virginians -- most of them, adversely. We need more media coverage on this.
Eliminating West Virginia’s Promise Scholarship program
While nothing is certain at this point, the Promise Scholarship is among the state programs that have been marked for possible elimination. (Actually, the scholarship is funded by the lottery but, as most observers have commented, the lottery money would become a general revenue source if the scholarship program were terminated.) My personal experience with the Promise Scholarship is that, while it is not a perfect program, it does an excellent job of encouraging West Virginians to pursue higher education in-state. Most importantly, the program encourages young people to get additional education (something the state desperately needs to attract new employers) while supporting West Virginia’s higher education institutions. So how can Republican state legislators talk about spurring economic growth when it eliminates a program that has consistently improved the educational level of the state for the past two decades? Republicans need to answer how a less-educated workforce will attract out-of-state businesses. And why would any young person stay in this state? (I don't believe that the Republican legislators actually care – this is really about cutting taxes for the rich.)
E. Gordon Gee
The president of West Virginia added his thoughts to all of this:
Yesterday WVU Pres. Gordon Gee told the Faculty Senate he supports moving toward abolishing the state income tax. Likely results of such a move 👇🏼 include slashing support for education, ending PROMISE, and moving more of the tax burden to people struggling to pay for college. https://t.co/JTnNRgJGkj— Scott Crichlow (@SCrichlow) February 9, 2021
So, for E. Gordon Gee, this is about WVU picking over the pieces of what’s left of WV higher education? How about that – a vulture with a bow tie!