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Justice outlines special session agenda


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is putting four bills on the agenda in a call for the Legislature to return for a special session at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 4.

Justice vetoed the budget bill lawmakers passed at the end of the 60-day regular session. The special session will take up legislation aimed at passing a state budget.

According to a statement issued by the governor, the special session call will include a revenue bill that would simplify and phase out the state personal income tax, exempt retired military personnel from paying income tax, raise corporate net income taxes and the state sales tax, adding a graduated severance tax for coal and natural gas and increase tax credits for rehabilitating historic structures. A second bill would provide funding for road construction and maintenance by increasing gasoline taxes and fees at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

A third bill would allow funding for the state Parkways Authority, and a fourth bill would provide for a 2 percent teacher pay raise, according to Justice’s office.

Republican leadership in the state Senate has agreed with the basic concepts of the governor’s budget proposal, but the plan faces steep opposition in the House of Delegates. Both Republicans and some Democrats are against the governor’s budget plan.

“For years we have fought efforts to raise taxes and grow government, and the plan the Governor and Senate are trying to push would do just that,” said Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock. “While we like the idea of lowering the income tax, the idea of offsetting it with even higher sales and business taxes will only hurt our economy – particularly in border areas.”

McGeehan is member of the Liberty Caucus that often goes against Republicans led by House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. Republican delegates from several of more than 30 state border counties also oppose raising the state sales tax, while some Democratic delegates from southern West Virginia oppose Justice’s severance tax proposals.

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