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WV House shelves coal and gas severance tax cuts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates shelved large tax cuts for the coal and gas industries passed by the state Senate last week, opting instead to study the cuts over the course of the next year.

The bill (SB 705) would have cut the severance tax paid by the coal and gas industries by 40 percent by the 2019 fiscal year. It passed the Senate last week 19-15, with almost exclusively Republican support.

It also would cost the state more than $100 million annually, according to estimates, and lawmakers are struggling to close a gaping hole in next year’s budget, caused, in large part, by plunging severance tax collections.

The House is working on a budget bill that would take about $30 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget, an idea that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin opposes.

The largest coal producer in the state blasted Republican House leadership for nixing the tax cuts.

“The leadership of West Virginia’s House of Delegates and, particularly, Speaker Tim Armstead, have abandoned our coal miners today,” said Gary Broadbent, a spokesman for Murray Energy…

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