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WV Senate panel considers sales tax hike

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Faced with the reality that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will veto any budget measure that takes more than $100 million out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund, the Senate Finance Committee began discussing a hike in the Consumer Sales and Service Tax Tuesday, a nearly last-ditch effort to balance a budget before the close of the fiscal year.

The bill to raise the sales tax by 1 percent is one of the three revenue measures Tomblin proposed two weeks ago, at the beginning of the special legislative session to plug a $270 million hole in the 2017 budget, brought about by a continuing slide in the energy sector and the domino effect in personal income and sales tax revenue. The tax would sunset — or end — in three years.

Lawmakers got further bad budget news from State Budget Director Mike McKown, who said that using “one time money,” including money from the Rainy Day Fund, is a temporary fix on a long-term problem. McKown said projections now say the state will have a $380 million budget gap in 2018 and beyond…

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