An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Billionaire businessman Jim Justice claims if West Virginians will elect him governor, he can fix most of what is wrong with our state. He could start by paying the more than $3.5 million in delinquent taxes he reportedly owes us.
Justice, who has the money to provide his election campaign with $2.9 million in loans and in-kind support, apparently has trouble coming up with money to pay about $15 million in taxes and fines owed to six states and the federal government, National Public Radio reported last week.
Included in the total reported by NPR were $6 million in withholding and severance taxes in West Virginia and five other states, $5.4 million owed to counties in those states — and $2.6 million in penalties for violations of federal mine safety regulations.
Of the total, $4.71 million is owed in West Virginia, where Justice owns The Greenbrier resort and some mining operations. Around $1 million of that is owed to the federal government for fines levied against Justice’s coal mines.
It is bad enough that, if the NPR report is accurate, Justice was failing to pay millions of dollars owed to the state even as lawmakers and the governor were struggling earlier this year to balance the budget. Higher taxes and borrowing from the state’s Rainy Day Fund were needed.
But remember, this is a man who told West Virginians, during a debate with his opponent, “I’m not asking you to trust me. …”
Even more troubling in a way is Justice allegedly owes millions of dollars in delinquent property taxes to some counties, primarily in Kentucky. It will not have escaped the notice of Mountain State voters that declining tax revenue has forced some county school systems to cut back severely.
Justice is worth $1.56 billion, according to Forbes. He is easily the richest man in West Virginia. He says his business success is why he ought to be governor.
Yet, if the NPR story is accurate, he does not pay his bills on time — while at least some of those owed money are forced to tighten their belts.
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