Opposition rally takes place before Governor’s tax summit

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – “It didn’t work in Kansas, governor!” yelled a demonstrator Monday outside of the Culture Center.

As Governor Justice pulled into the Culture Center for his tax summit, West Virginians with different advocacy groups had no qualms telling him what they think of his proposed elimination of the state income tax.

They say they’re not buying the governor’s claims that eliminating the state income tax will lead to more business and money in people’s pockets.

“They’re depending on growth that no one else in the country has witnessed,” said Samuel Hickman with the West Virginia National Association for Social Workers.

Instead, Hickman says it will negatively impact the people he serves as the state makes up for lost revenue with other tax increases.

“People in nursing homes who are dependent on Medicaid coverage, who are dependent on Medicaid to cover their nursing facility,” he said.

Gary Zuckett with the West Virginia Citizen Action Group says it will give the wealthy a tax break while making the average West Virginian pay more for services.

“Sin taxes, you know tobacco and alcohol; they always like to pile those on but what we’ll have is people will be going across the river to Ohio or Pennsylvania to buy those things if they’re cheaper there,” said Zuckett.

In the past, lawmakers and proponents of the three tax bills have pointed to other states without an income tax and their prosperity.

But Hickman says this isn’t Florida.

“It’s kind of hard to believe that people are going to flock to West Virginia for its sunny beaches,” he said.

For others like Betty Rivard, one of the demonstrators, it’s about tax equity.

“We all need to pay our fair share and I think the income tax is the only tax that would do that,” she said.

House Bill 3300 and Senate Bill 600 still remain to be passed.

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