Beckley, WV – (WWNR) – A large crowd gathered at the Tamarack Conference Center Thursday for a town hall meeting with Governor Jim Justice on his plan to cut the state income tax by fifty percent over three years.
Accompanied by state Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy and his constant companion Babydog, Justice said the plan is to cut taxes by 30 percent the first year and by 10 percent the following two years. Around 700 million dollars would be put into a reserve fund to be used if problems develop in the state economy. The goal is to eventually eliminate personal income tax in West Virginia.
“Look at the tax publications,” said Governor Justice. “Look at the other states, look at the fact that West Virginia is not really growing significantly in population, we need to do that. When we start to grow, when we influx this money to the taxpayers, the taxpayers will spend their money here. And as they spend their money here, more good will happen, more growth will happen and more people will come. And the multiplier effect just spins and spins and spins. That’s what we want to have happen.”
Justice’s tax cut proposal passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 95 to 2 earlier this week, but faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where some fear the plan could cause problems for future West Virginians. He promised that other taxes would not be raised to make up for any budget shortfall.
“I’ll promise you without any question, we have vetted these numbers beyond belief. And I am so conservative in my thinking, it’s off the charts. That’s why we went 30-10-10. That’s why we put 700 million dollars out of the surplus into an insurance account. Basically, it’s sitting there in case Without any question, these numbers are very, very conservative and they’re safe. That’s all there is to it.”
Thursday’s town hall was the third Justice had held this week. The first was in Charleston on Monday and the second in Parkersburg on Wednesday. While the main focus of the meetings was the Governor’s tax proposal, other issues have come up as well.
“Overwhelmingly, the majority of the people are saying the same thing – we want the tax break. And we want the money coming to the hard working people of West Virginia. A hundred to one almost you get that. But then you’re getting people that have real concerns about things that are affecting them in their lives. Whether it be the Southern Regional Jail situation, whether it be the lady in regard to the vaccine. So you take those questions. You may have a reporter say something about the governor’s powers, which I don’t care a bit in the world about. How do you feel about dividing up the DHHR and all that kind of stuff. And I’m for one thing – make it better. But you have questions like that and that’s why I say we’ll take any question and every question and try to answer it as best we can.”
A fourth town hall meeting is scheduled for Wheeling on Friday.