Charleston, WV - As the West Virginia Legislature begins the second half of the 2016 Legislative Session, legislators are looking at ways to provide much needed funding for entities and programs around our state.
Delegate Don Perdue (D-Wayne) and Delegate Sean Hornbuckle (D-Cabell) have introduced legislation that would increase the excise tax on soft drinks to provide funding for higher education institutions and local health departments. 75% of the revenues from the increased tax would be deposited in a newly created “Give a Pop to Higher Education Fund”. Monies from this fund would be allocated by the Legislature to state colleges and universities for maintenance and operation costs.
“If our state cannot produce an educated workforce, it will be hard to retain population and attract businesses to West Virginia,” Delegate Hornbuckle stated. “I want to continue work with my colleagues in the Legislature to find ways to assist our state’s colleges and universities to keep moving West Virginia forward.”
A portion of this funding would also be directed to county health departments. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s budget for fiscal year 2017 includes a 25% cut in state funds to local health departments around the state.
“With the drug abuse and health issues plaguing our state, West Virginia needs a multi-faceted approach to address these problems, including the community efforts spearheaded by our local health departments,” Delegate Hornbuckle stated.
Delegate Don Perdue echoed his sentiments. “Our higher education system and local health departments are in distress right now- even more so moving forward by virtue of budget cuts to both bodies,” he said.
“This bill proposes an inconsequential tax on soda that will raise the kind of funds it will take to keep them at least at even par.
“We have to do this because higher education protects our future and good local health services protect our present,” Perdue urged. “There is no greater reason to support this inconsequential- this minimal tax- than those two things.”