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Opinion – Now is the time: West Virginia’s moment to make a bold step for our future

By Gov. Jim Justice

Earlier this week, West Virginians witnessed something almost unheard of across this country: Leaders from both parties coming together for a constructive conversation about the future of this great state at a time when the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Governor Jim Justice

Rather than infighting, insults, and incompetency, we talked, and we debated about how to achieve something we know we must do to ensure the long-term prosperity of West Virginia – get more money into the hands of residents.

At its core, it’s just that simple.

I put forth an updated version of a plan to eliminate personal income tax and return that money to you. I call this the Justice 4 All plan – not because of my name, but because I truly believe this common-sense approach would allow us to seize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our tax structure and make life better for all West Virginians.

It will raise wages, increase home values, entice more people to call West Virginia home, incentivize businesses to move here and create jobs.

This plan cuts the income tax by 50 percent in the first year, and eventually eliminates it over three years.

Others have put forward competing proposals. There is a sense of urgency. We cannot allow the elimination of the state income tax to take too long. Unless we take this bold step, we risk becoming rudderless. Gains we’ve made in one area would be offset by an inability to truly capitalize on the building blocks that serve as the foundation in our state.

And we have made significant gains and shown the rest of the country we are leaders when it comes to initiatives like our best-in-class vaccination program. Now is the time to make a move.

COVID-19 has upended the way we work, the way we educate, we way we raise a family, the way we socialize. It has also reminded us of what we love and treasure most, especially the outdoors. Given what West Virginia has to offer, not only do our residents value living here, Americans across the country will be enticed to set down roots here for generations to come.

But there is an intense competition playing itself out right now among states. Each are trying to position themselves as leaders in education, business, and upholding family values. We cannot afford to only go half-way while other states are taking big moves. We can and must compete because people and businesses want to locate in low-tax states.

Again, this begins with making sure that the people of West Virginia—and future residents—see that we want to incentivize hard work, by letting you, the people, keep more of your hard-earned money.

The calculus is simple. As your governor, I believe that more money in the pockets of West Virginians is better for West Virginia in the short- and long-term.

Every West Virginian will benefit from this plan. All lower income brackets less than $35,000 a year will receive a rebate check, and low- and high-income taxpayers will all see a net positive benefit.

The past year has been extremely challenging. Small businesses have struggled, middle-class workers are uncertain about their futures, and the economy is fragile.

Now is the time for West Virginia to show it will compete and invest in our state’s future. We cannot stay on the same trajectory of the past – _we must step up and innovate.

Eliminating the state income tax is an investment in West Virginians. We have just a few days left to close the deal. Let’s make it happen.

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