Amendment 2, or the Property Tax Modernization Amendment, will be on the ballot this November for West Virginia voters to consider. If passed, it would amend the constitution to give the state legislature the authority to exempt business machinery and equipment, business inventory, and personal vehicles from property taxation. As such, passage of the amendment would give the legislature control over $515 million of property tax revenue, or 27 percent of total property tax revenue in the state, resulting in the fulfillment of a long-term goal of state legislators to take control of a significant portion of property tax revenue in order to pursue a property tax cut that largely benefits out-of-state businesses.
The proposed exemptions under Amendment 2 would result in local governments losing control over an essential revenue stream. The $515 million in property tax revenue from personal vehicles and business machinery and equipment, business inventory, and other business personal property accounts for up to 37 percent of total property tax revenue in some counties. The loss of this critical revenue will adversely impact the ability of municipalities, county governments, and school districts to provide needed services that benefit all West Virginians, and will likely lead to cuts to services or increased taxes on other parties, like homeowners.
As we approach this November’s election, county commissions, boards of education, and public officials across West Virginia are increasingly coming out in opposition to Amendment 2. The executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties recently joined the WVCBP’s policy outreach director to share pertinent information about the amendment with the Randolph County Commission. A local article provides further details. Excerpt below:
Commissioner Cris Siler and Randolph County Assessor Phyllis Yokum led the meeting, which featured informational presentations from the West Virginia Association of Counties’ Jonathan Adler, and Seth DiStefano from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Like many leaders from throughout the state, including Gov. Jim Justice, both guests spoke out against Amendment 2, which would give the West Virginia Legislature authority over the property taxes that currently fund county governments, school boards and emergency services.
Adler was first to speak and explained several different ways Amendment 2 would harshly affect counties and municipalities.
“As many of you may not know, this money we are talking about, these taxes, are in the state constitution and they are mandated to help local governments,” said Adler, who is WVACO’s executive director. “They go mostly to our schools, about 67 percent. Then 27 percent goes to county governments and just a sliver goes to the state right now.”
Adler told the crowd that getting rid of their car tax wasn’t worth all the damage the amendment would cause locally for each county in the state.
“The supporters of this say ‘hey, folks, if you want to get rid of your car tax, support Amendment 2,’” Adler said. “That’s how they are selling this to you. It’s about a car tax they are giving as a gift to you and everything is going to be hunky dory. But there’s a heck of a lot more to it than that.”
Adler said if the amendment passes, the state Legislature will be taking about $600 million from local governments and schools and will use it whatever way they decide to do so. Close to $140 million from car taxes and another $400 million from business taxes will be affected by Amendment 2.
“You see who is going to benefit from these tax cuts,” Adler said. “It’s going to be the businesses.”
Adler said funding for local libraries, volunteer fire departments, emergency squads and youth sports teams are among the many entities that will suffer if the amendment is passed.
“If you pass this, if you vote for this, it takes the mandate out of the constitution and it gives the authority to the legislature to see how they want to allocate these monies going forward,” Adler said. “Funding for the local community is going to go away.”
Read the full article.
In addition to depriving counties of much-needed revenue, passage of Amendment 2 would lead to significantly reduced school system budgets across the state. For example, Ohio County Schools stand to lose $7 million annually – nearly 10 percent of their annual budget. Learn more here.
Take action to educate your communities about how dangerous Amendments 2 and 4 would be for our schools and local public services. Update your profile picture across your social media platforms to a photo from our digital toolkit!
Earlier this month, the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (WVMA) released a report in support of Amendment 2, which would give the state legislature the authority to exempt business machinery, equipment, and inventory from property taxes. While the WVMA claims the report bolsters the case for Amendment 2, it contains several flaws and misleading assumptions that call into question its conclusions. Our new blog post provides five major takeaways from the report:
1. The report does not account for the negative economic and jobs impacts of reducing local revenue. While it talks about potential economic growth by modeling the impacts of a hypothetical business locating in the state due to the elimination of business personal property taxes, it completely ignores the negative impacts of losing $515 million in state and local revenue that funds public services.
2. The report misrepresents West Virginia’s personal property tax. It claims the tax is a “six percent tax on manufacturers’ inventory, machinery, and equipment.” In reality, West Virginia’s property tax rates vary by locality, with all capped at well below six percent in the state constitution.
3. The report falsely claims that West Virginia’s industrial property tax makes us an outlier. It perpetuates a myth that West Virginia is unique in taxing business machinery and equipment, when the majority of states have machinery and equipment personal property taxes.
4. The report fails to show evidence that industrial property taxes are hurting West Virginia’s economic growth. In addition to misrepresenting the actual tax rate and comparisons to other states, the report’s economic impact analysis simply assumes the tax is hurting growth, instead of analyzing its economic impact. Actual data has shown that there is no clear evidence that property taxes on machinery and equipment are harmful to growth and that eliminating the tax can actually lead to manufacturing job losses.
5. The report hints that new taxes that fall more heavily on West Virginians will be needed to offset losses. While not explicitly stated, it implies that the revenue losses under Amendment 2 should be made up via higher real residential and commercial property taxes and/or higher sales taxes – both of which fall much more heavily on West Virginia residents and local business owners than the potential tax cuts under Amendment 2.
Learn more in Sean and Kelly’s full blog post.
Take action to educate your friends and neighbors about how dangerous Amendments 2 and 4 would be for our schools, local public services, and communities. Update your profile picture across your social media platforms to one from our digital toolkit!
On October 18th, starting at 6pm, community members will gather at the Racine Volunteer Fire Department to learn more about what’s at stake for Boone County if Amendment 2 passes this fall.
Find the Facebook event here.
Learn more about the potential impacts of Amendments 2 and 4 here.
Medicaid’s public health emergency (PHE) is set to expire as soon as January 2023. During this webinar, we’ll explain what the public health emergency is, what’s been happening nationally and in West Virginia, and what steps we can all take to protect public health in our communities.
The webinar will be held Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 12pm. Register here.
Please note: this event is aimed at direct service providers, advocates, researchers, and folks interested in learning more about the PHE. We’ll be hosting webinars early next year aimed specifically toward Medicaid enrollees, so stay tuned!
The fourth annual Food for All Summit is a place to learn about the decisions that state and federal policy makers are considering that affect both food access and farm viability. Come learn, build skills, and develop policy-changing ideas!
The event will take place on November 16 from 10am-4pm at the Brushy Fork Event Center (929 Brushy Fork Road, Buckhannon, WV 26201).
Beginning in July 2021, most households with children had received monthly enhanced Child Tax Credit (CTC) payments of $250- 300 per child. However, the enhanced CTC included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was temporary and expired at the end of 2021.
The impact on children and families since the expiration of the enhanced CTC has been severe. Between Dec. 2021 and Jan. 2022, there was a staggering 41 percent increase in child poverty nationwide due to the loss of the monthly payments. And as inflation continues to exacerbate family financial hardship, the need to make a robust CTC permanent is as urgent as ever.
Recently, a new proposal to expand the CTC was announced by Senator Mitt Romney. While we are excited to see bipartisan interest in enhancing the credit and while the proposal does improve some elements of the current law, it also has serious shortcomings – primarily, it does not make the full credit available to the lowest-income families (a notable divergence from the now-expired enhanced CTC that was included in the ARPA). Further, it proposes problematic offsets that would prove detrimental to low-income families.
The WVCBP’s Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) Voices Project seeks to collect stories from West Virginians who have struggled to access Medicaid across the state. Being conducted in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will gather insight to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians, specifically people of color.
Do you have a Medicaid experience to share? We’d appreciate your insight. Just fill out the contact form on this webpage and we’ll reach out to you soon. We look forward to learning from you!
You can watch WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombé and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Mariah Plante further break down the project and its goals in this FB Live.