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Governor updated plan has no tax cut for those make over $300k

By ANDREA LANNOM

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Gov. Jim Justice presented an updated revenue plan Monday, including changes in the reduction of personal income tax and a sales tax rate change.

Jim Justice reviews three budget plans in a Monday afternoon press conference at the Capitol.
(Photo by Andrea Lannom)

Justice unveiled three whiteboards in an early afternoon press conference representing what he said were House Speaker Tim Armstead’s and Senate President Mitch Carmichael’s plans which remove personal income tax reductions. A third whiteboard represented Justice’s own plan.

Justice said he saw groups of legislators becoming polarized last Friday. He said he met with Carmichael and Armstead Saturday morning, asking them where they saw each chamber going from this point forward.

Under “Carmichael’s plan,” Justice said if the personal income tax reduction is removed, the plan will have a $4.1 billion budget, leaving a $270 million hole that would be filled by cuts.

Under “Armstead’s plan,” Justice said there is no personal income tax reduction, no increase in the consumer sales tax or broadening the base of the sales tax. The plan would eliminate over three years the personal income tax on Social Security for people making below $100,000. It also would increase the personal exemption from $2,000 to $2,500. Justice said this plan would leave a $40 million to $70 million hole.

Justice’s plan still includes the personal income tax reduction, but he said people making more than $300,000 a year would not receive a tax cut.

The rate of the reduction is the same that has been discussed in recent weeks, 7 percent the first and second years and 6 percent the third year. He said he would leave the triggers for the reductions up to Delegate Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, who co-chairs the committee.

The conference committee has discussed and presented different plans for triggers for the reduction along with potential brackets.

“Let’s get helping the rich out of your mind once and for all,” Justice said. “Let’s take that off the table. It should not be there. It will be 0 tax benefit coming to anyone above $300,000 in income.”

Under his plan, the sales tax would increase to 6.35 percent instead of the previously proposed 6.5 percent, and the sales tax base would be broadened. Justice’s plan also would keep the increased personal exemption under the House plan, $25 million for the Save Our State Fund for tourism advertising, teacher pay raises, exempt Social Security from the personal income tax for people making less than $100,000 a year, and it would keep the historical tax credit. His plan also includes the tiering of the severance tax, which the House previously had taken out.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t pass this,” Justice said pointing to the white board with his plan written on it, “I fear more than anything that there is going to be some level of carnage. If we don’t pass this, there has to be some level of real hurt.”

When asked if he would veto a plan similar to the ones marked Carmichael’s and Armstead’s on the whiteboard, Justice said he would be inclined to veto anything that he feels would hurt residents more.

“We are faced with a decision that is just this. Shut down the government or do something that hurts our people,” Justice said. “If we don’t do this and do it right now, right about what I said. Carnage will come. It’s not a threat. It’s not coming from me. If we don’t do this, we either shut down the government and do some version of this and hurt someone. The level of how bad it hurts is argumentative but it’s going to hurt someone.”

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