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Editorial: Time to derail tax ‘reform’ bill

From The Dominion Post of Morgantown: 
It’s time to throw the switch on Senate Bill 335 and divert it onto a sidetrack.

An independent analysis of the enormous tax changes in this bill is critical.

The state deputy revenue secretary’s fiscal note on this bill already came back with flashing red lights:

“The proposed bill represents the most massive tax reform effort of any state in recent memory.

“Most states commit significant resources toward adequate measurement of tax reform impact on businesses and residents prior to adoption of a significant change.”

Yet, just two weeks later, like a steam locomotive coming down your track, this bill appears headed to passage in the state Senate.

And, as a rule, don’t look for the House of Delegates to derail this bill. It’s usually even more political and less circumspect about the consequences of such legislation

Gov. Jim Justice could still veto this bill upon its arrival on his desk. However, he only has five days to do so before it automatically becomes law.

Still, even if SB 335 is vetoed legislators only need a simple majority to override Justice’s veto.

So we get why the rush to pass this legislation — timing is everything. Much like any high pressure “deal” — before the red flags start frantically waving — the Republican-led Legislature cannot afford to slow down SB 335. The public might start asking questions.

Despite unproven theories of taxation, despite proper economic modeling and despite that fiscal note this train’s on a fast track.

Instead, though its complexity is growing by the day — from 54 to 85 pages since March 8 — its picking up speed.

Furthermore, this bill also comes with an attached constitutional amendment designed to prevent restoring any of the taxes this bill repeals.

It would ultimately require a three-fifths votes of the Legislature to do so.

This amendment repeals sections of the state Constitution on property and personal property taxes and replaces them with 13 new subsections.

Of course, what’s in this bill will drive this train and there appears to be something for everyone.

But the engine of this tax “reform” is still the
8 percent general consumption — a sales, service and use — tax on virtually everything.

Yes, it provides for many exemptions, but it also eliminates many exemptions that will compound price issues.

That 8 percent is also higher than California’s
7.25 percent sales tax, for now the highest in the nation.

As inevitable bad outcomes go, you may want to do more than shake your head over this one.

After all, if this shakedown advances the state budget will not be the only one hanging in the balance.

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