Gov. Jim Justice gave his third State of the State speech Wednesday night. These annual speeches are the ceremonial kickoff to the 60-day legislative session, and Justice used it to outline his hopes for the session.
Among Justice’s proposals is eliminating the state income tax on Social Security benefits, which will cost the state treasury about $50 million a year. He also wants to phase out the business inventory tax, which has been an unmet goal of governors and businesses for years, and he wants to increase the supplement to PEIA by $150 million. And there are others. Justice wants an additional $25 million for substance abuse programs, for example.
When you compare Justice’s proposed tax cuts with his spending increases, it becomes clear that this is a pretty expensive wish list. On Thursday, Michael Cook, Justice’s Budget Office director, said Justice’s proposed state budget includes $200 million in one-time supplemental appropriations. That money will come from two sources. Justice increased the revenue estimates for this fiscal year by $142 million. To that he added $58 million that was put into this year’s budget but was never appropriated by the Legislature.
That may be a good idea. Or it may not. Either way, it’s a risky one. …