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WV House votes for coal and gas tax cuts

Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo
Charleston Gazette-Mail file photo

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Thursday to give major tax cuts to the coal and gas industries, approving a proposal from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that helps balance this year’s budget while costing the state about $110 million annually beginning next budget year.

The bill (HB 419) would remove the “excess” severance taxes on coal and gas production that were put into place in 2005 to pay off old debts related to the state’s workers’ compensation fund.

Thanks largely to the Marcellus Shale boom, those debts are scheduled to be paid off within the next two years, about a decade ahead of schedule, so Tomblin proposed removing the taxes.

The bill would use the excess severance tax money that’s collected through the end of June to help fill the state’s gaping $354 million budget shortfall this year. That would be the first time that money went to general revenue, rather than the workers’ comp debt. Then, as of July 1, the excess severance taxes would disappear…

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