CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — He was interrupted many times for applause during the 2023 State of the State Address, but Gov. Jim Justice probably got the loudest response when he proposed his income tax cut plan.
Gov. Justice said he wants personal income tax reduced by 50% in West Virginia over three years. The first year would cut 30%; with 10% reductions in the second and third years.
The goal is to attract new people and businesses.
“We’re going to have to aggressively look at our personal income tax. It is an opportunity right now like none of us could ever imagine,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
Senate and House leaders are promising their own tax cut plans, so differences have to be worked out. But Republicans want some cuts.
“I think those discussions are starting now. Clearly, we need tax cuts. The surplus is big, but where does the money need to go back to? Our people,” said State Sen. Mike Stuart (R-Kanawha).
“I think the House and the Governor and hopefully the Senate can agree, it’s time to give back those tax dollars to our hard-working families in West Virginia,” said Speaker Pro Tem. Del. Paul Espinosa, (R-Jefferson).
But Democrats are worried that some income tax reductions will not be fair.
“When we go a 10% tax cut across the board, rich people get great big tax cuts. And we’ve been here a number of years and not given any breaks to the regular guys,” said Del. Larry Rowe, (D-Kanawha).
One area that is getting support from both parties, is using $140 million dollars to shore up PEIA, the health insurance plan for state employees and school workers. Last week, Wheeling Hospital announced it would stop accepting the PEIA payments in July. There are worries other hospitals would follow.
“Our public employees, the last thing they want on their minds right now is worrying about their medical care. Especially in my neck of the woods in the Northern Panhandle. I agree it would spread from the Northern Panhandle, across the whole state,” said Del. Shawn Fluharty, (D-Ohio).
Lawmakers have 59 more days to get these and other issues fixed.
By the time the session is done, the House and Senate must pass a state budget estimated to be in the range of $4.5 billion.
You can watch the full State of the State Address by clicking here.