For Immediate Release: February 2, 20201
Contact: Renee Alves, 559-916-5939
Charleston, WV – With West Virginia still feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic recession, the state’s leaders face difficult decisions in the upcoming legislative session. Increasing numbers of West Virginians are struggling to feed their families, remain in their homes, keep their businesses afloat, and protect their jobs, all while fighting to stay healthy. The choices legislators make will help determine whether or not the state will have a swift and equitable recovery with an economy that works for everyone.
Despite the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, some state leaders have indicated their intent to worsen the economic inequities our people face and gut the state’s ability to provide critical public services by slashing revenues through an effort to reduce or eliminate the personal income tax.
From WVCBP executive director Kelly Allen:
“The pandemic has magnified the importance of investment in public services like K-12 education, public health departments, first responders, and health care. If our state leaders choose to pursue austerity and tax cuts for the wealthy, it will delay our recovery and disproportionately harm those West Virginians who’ve been most impacted by the pandemic recession through cuts to these important public services and likely increases in consumption taxes like the sales tax.”
This week, over thirty organizations with diverse constituencies came together to urge our state leaders — including Governor Jim Justice, Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair, and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw — to reject revenue cuts and to instead invest in the public services that will fuel West Virginia’s recovery. Signatories include organizations focused on health, child welfare, environmental policy, disability rights, racial justice, and public education. The full list of signatories can be found here.
From the letter:
“As you consider legislative priorities and the state budget in the coming weeks, you face a daunting task of balancing the budget as the need for strong, quality public services is greater than ever. As leaders of our great state, you have an important responsibility to uphold the dignity and opportunity of all West Virginians, while keeping in particular mind those who are suffering the most due to the unequal impacts of the pandemic.
“This responsibility demands steadfast action and courage to invest more in public services. However, we – the undersigned – are concerned that the state is contemplating counterproductive budget cuts and proposals that would take needed revenue away from public services and programs that those we serve rely upon. We urge you to take bold action to strengthen public support and invest in West Virginia’s future. Every dollar spent in uplifting people, communities, small businesses, and local governments is a dollar that will enhance the economy and pay dividends for years to come.
“In contrast, budget and revenue cuts will sacrifice West Virginians’ safety, health, economic security, and public education, all for a short-term solution. Instead of cuts, we urge that you look to protect revenue to invest in West Virginia’s long-term prosperity. We understand that you must balance the state budget. Still, as we reflect on lessons from the Great Recession, it is evident that cuts to public services will only slow down economic development, in both the public and private sectors, ultimately harming all of us.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
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