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Income tax phase-out, broadband expansion top priorities for new West Virginia Senate president

By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Officially elected Wednesday as the 53rd president of the West Virginia Senate, Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, set two priorities for the legislative session: broadband expansion and reduction/elimination of the state income tax.

“We’ve been changing how we do business in West Virginia the last six years,” Blair said in his acceptance speech, referring to when Republicans took control of the Senate and House of Delegates. “The tide has changed, and it’s coming in for West Virginia.”

Blair said his goal is to increase West Virginia’s population by 400,000 over the next 10 years. In the past five years, the population has dropped by about 34,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Blair said Wednesday that phasing out the income tax will be a key to attracting throngs of people to West Virginia.

“Now’s the time to step on the accelerator, speed up the opportunity for change in West Virginia,” he said.

In 2017, as Senate Finance chairman, Blair was a key advocate for legislation to phase out the income tax. That bill would have replaced lost income tax revenue with a broad-based 8% sales tax, eliminating current exemptions for professional services and for other goods and services that currently are untaxed. ….

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