Charleston, WV - House Bill 2704, creatively renamed in the best Orwellian doublethink and newspeak tradition as the West Virginia Tax Decrease Act of 2016, in addition to being rushed through has not been thought through.
As proposed, it represents one of the largest tax increases in the history in West Virginia. This legislation provides for unprecedented levels of uncertainty and discretion in the hands of Tax Commissioner to rewrite the rules that determine funding for almost 30 percent of the West Virginia budget. Rather than decrease taxes, it increases taxes on items like mobile homes and, for the first time, taxes you for things like filing your taxes, getting your haircut and taking your pet to the vet.
In the name of broadening the base, we run the risk of destroying the foundation of the service industries that support small businesses and families across West Virginia. The unintended consequences of this untimely legislation is just the opposite of what is needed in the face of our budget shortfall.
I was one of a minority of no votes for this bill in the Finance Committee over the weekend. I have not heard from one person outside of the Capitol building that thinks this is a good idea at this time. Over the summer I attended all the meetings of Joint Select Committee on Tax Reform, at my own expense, in an effort to better understand how we best modernize the tax system our state. In none of the 50 plus hours of meetings nor in the first 47 days of the legislative session was this proposal presented or discussed.
The Legislature can and needs to do better. West Virginia taxpayers deserve better. I stand ready to work with leadership of both parties to do so.