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West Virginia Senate ties pay raises, Social Security tax cut to future triggers

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As negotiations continue between both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature toward ending the session Saturday with a budget, the state Senate is tying two key provisions supported by Gov. Jim Justice and the House of Delegates to future triggers in the state income tax.

The Senate Finance Committee amended and recommended for passage Wednesday afternoon House Bill 4883, relating to increasing annual salaries of certain employees of the state.

HB 4883 was the vehicle for Gov. Jim Justice’s fifth pay raise proposal for teachers, school service personnel and West Virginia State Police troopers and employees. The original bill would have provided these state employees a 5% pay raise at a cost of more than $80 million. Raises for other state employees paid through the general revenue budget were included in Justice’s budget bill.

But the Senate Finance Committee amended the bill Wednesday, lowering the raise percentage to 4% and linking a raise to a trigger in last year’s personal income tax cut.

The Legislature passed HB 2526 during the 2023 session, cutting personal income tax rates by 21.25% across all six personal income tax brackets beginning last tax year. The personal income tax cut returns approximately $590 million to taxpayers.

The bill includes a trigger formula for further reducing personal income tax rates after Aug. 1, 2024, by comparing general revenue collections in a previous fiscal year minus severance tax collections compared to the base year of fiscal year 2019 and tied to the non-seasonally adjusted consumer price index.

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