Government, Latest News

Senate majority leader says calling special session for Thursday premature


The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns says he feels calling legislators into a special session Thursday is premature because an agreement hasn’t been reached between all parties.

Sen. Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio

In a phone interview Tuesday, Ferns, R-Ohio, said he hoped the governor would change his mind and not call legislators back until an agreement had been reached among the governor, the Senate and the House.

“My hope was that the governor would change his mind and not call us in this week until more of an agreement or at least a framework has been met. But seeing as that’s not the case, I think it’s very possible that things could not go smoothly this week,” Ferns said. “History and experience has shown when there is no agreement prior to reconvening in a special session, it’s not common for things to magically work out.”

In a news release last week, House Speaker Tim Armstead said the House majority was closed out of the process and said the governor’s plan does not have support from a majority of members.

He went on to say that the House has “repeatedly tried to get the governor” to work with them on a framework that would gain support of members but said the governor “has repeatedly shut the door in our face.”

Ferns said he thinks it’s impossible to predict the outcome of the special session, but added that he doesn’t think it bodes well for the that House leadership expressed that it has not been included in discussions.

“I know that there is not an agreement,” Ferns said. “I know that the House feels the governor’s office has not been open and in communication with them. Those things leave a lot of questions unanswered about how this session might go.”

Ferns mentioned he thought it could be a type of strategy but said he thought it would be better to reach an agreement before calling a special session.

“If it’s a strategy to call us back in to put pressure on people who aren’t in agreement, it’s not a good strategy,” Ferns said. “I’ve been there before when you’re in long drawn out special sessions and things don’t improve by having everyone there in an uncomfortable situation. I think that the most logical approach is to continue to have ongoing discussions and make sure to include House leadership and anyone else available to reach agreement before calling 134 legislators back to Charleston and start spending taxpayer dollars.”

Justice has previously said he thinks the budget will include a 1 percent increase in consumer sales tax. In a previous interview, Senate President Mitch Carmichael mentioned the possibility of reducing the personal income tax by about 40 percent for lower income brackets and about 16-17 percent for upper income brackets.

Ferns said he felt the governor agreeing to tax measures was good progress.

“I think the most significant progress made in negotiations is that the governor agreed to the tax reform proposal, which is a step in the right direction for tax policy in West Virginia,” he said. “He has thrown out for the entire legislative session and continued since it ended to throw out a number of different tax increases — most of which were rejected by the Legislature. The fact that he’s come to an agreement with the Senate that tax reform proposals are positive for West Virginia moving forward is the most significant progress we’ve made.”

Ferns also talked about the shift from a commercial activities tax to a corporate net income. In a previous interview, Carmichael mentioned the possibility of an 8 percent corporate net income tax but he said he’s working with the governor to reduce that number.

“He (Justice) got the message from the Senate that this was a nonstarter for us,” Ferns said of the commercial activities tax. “It’s just bad tax policy. Since then, he’s continued to name other tax increases. I don’t think our caucus has had the chance to fully discuss any of those new tax increases the governor has proposed. We are willing to listen, given that he has a willingness to accept the tax reform proposal.”

Ferns said the Republican and Democrat caucuses in both bodies can meet or talk any time via conference call. He said the Republican caucus will likely meet the first day of the special session.

“We will likely, probably, each caucus will likely meet when everyone gets into town on Thursday,” he said. “There has been in the past and there are discussions prior to them as well.”

See more from The Register-Herald  

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address