Pages tagged "Tax and Budget News"
But West Virginia has company in its budget misery. Weakening sales and income taxes are a problem nationwide, according to The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a policy research arm of the State University of New York that keeps track of state fiscal conditions, tax policies and spending trends.
Conservative columnist Laurie Lin, of WVPB's The Front Porch, and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy's Ted Boettner join host Ashton Marra to discuss the race for governor and the challenges Democrat Jim Justice will face, particularly with the budget, when he takes office in January.
The panel also discusses the expanded Republican control of the West Virginia Senate and what new leadership could mean for policy during the 2017 session.
While incumbent Democrat Bob Williams is calling for a diversification of the state's economy, Republican Randy Smith appears to have staked West Virginia's future on a renewal of coal and other fossil fuel energy sources. As of Sept. 30, the majority of Smith's campaign contributions come from out-of-state, coal-related companies, while the bulk of Williams' war chest comes from union-supported PACs.
"Relying solely on energy is what got us in this budget mess," Williams said. "Tourism is an area we have a great opportunity to expand. Continuing to rely simply on energy would be a big mistake."
Both men met last week with members of the Daily Telegraph's editorial board, and presented largely opposing views on issues ranging from Right to Work, the repeal of the state's prevailing wage, how to solve the state's budget crisis and turnpike tolls. The two men did find some common ground when questioned about ways to advance the King Coal Highway and the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. But the largely cordial editorial board session later erupted into an argument over negative advertising as both men prepared to leave the session.
Swope took exception to what he called untrue allegations made by Seay, who is alleging in political advertisement that Swope once hired foreign labor instead of local workers at a Swope Construction Company job. Swope denies those claims, and brought paperwork from the Department of Labor that Swope said refuted the allegations by Seay.
West Virginia's ongoing budget crisis was the topic of a social science seminar on the Concord University campus. Rick Wilson of the American Friends Social Service Committee asked the attendees to answer questions about the state services they used routinely. The state budget touches on many of the services West Virginians use every day.
"The state budget can be boring, but breathing can be boring until somebody starts choking you," Wilson said. "Then it becomes fascinating."
Executive Director Ted Boettner of the nonprofit West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy described the ongoing state budget crisis and the decisions the state's leaders and citizens may have to make in order to resolve it.
The West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy is a nonpartisan organization that examines West Virginia's state budget and advocates for various programs to help improve the state's economic situation. The center tends to favor social programs and policies such as a state earned income tax credit and the RECLAIM Act, which is intended to help West Virginia diversify its economy.
Center Executive Director Ted Boettner said the state needs to take immediate action to begin closing the budget gap, which currently is around $350 million.
After a special legislative session that cost $595,000, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a budget for fiscal year 2017 that closed a $270 million gap through an increase in the tobacco tax, program cuts, money from agency accounts and $65 million from the state's savings.
These were mostly one-time measures, said Ted Boettner, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy, who was in Elkins on Thursday. The next budget will be just as challenging, if not more so, he said.
"I think we've swept all of the accounts we can," he said. "We're going to have to find $350 million just to break even."
The center has suggested different tax options for coming up with revenue and has ideas about what should be protected from cuts, like higher education. In Lewis County, unsurprisingly many of you don't like the idea of any taxes at all, but you do have preferences with them.
Senior Policy Analyst Sean O'Leary says everyone is affected by the state budget every day. It pays for roads, schools, services, and when it comes to cuts nothing is safe. Some of the revenue options the center suggests go back to a sales tax on telecommunication devices or a tobacco tax. Or what about a soda tax, a sales tax on digital downloads, or a higher natural gas severance tax?
They want to raise money to avoid cuts, especially more to higher education.
They discuss the effect the increasing number of professions requiring licensure or certification has on the state's economy. Are all these licenses really necessary? If not, what's the best way to eliminate the ones we don't need?