Blog Posts > Kelly Allen: Obsession With Tax Cuts Killing W.Va. (Opinion)
July 6, 2024

Kelly Allen: Obsession With Tax Cuts Killing W.Va. (Opinion)

Charleston Gazette-Mail – Earlier this week, Gov. Jim Justice stood on a stage with balloons, banners and giant scissors to celebrate what his team hailed as a historic revenue announcement. The announcement? State revenues hit a complicated trigger formula which will automatically reduce the personal income tax by about $80 million — resulting in an estimated extra 85 cents per week for the average West Virginia household.

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The other big news was that West Virginia had an $800 million revenue surplus to end Fiscal Year 2024 (more than half of which has already been spent). But key to understanding surpluses is knowing that they are measured against revenue estimates, which are created by the governor’s own administration. In recent years, the Justice Administration has set the revenue estimates artificially low to manufacture significant “surpluses.” When adjusted for inflation, the revenue estimate for Fiscal Year 2024—the just completed fiscal year—comes in at about $600 million below actual state budget spending just five years ago in Fiscal Year 2019. With that context revealed, it is evident that most of the so-called surplus is simply money that was being spent on state services through the normal budgeting process just a few short years ago.

Meanwhile, reduced state investment via years of flat budgets is having deep and painful consequences for families, businesses and our economy. In the first half of 2024, at least six child care centers have closed their doors, taking with them hundreds of slots for children of working families. School districts are facing unprecedented layoffs, with many paring back course offerings, shuttering services for students with learning and behavioral needs, and closing schools. The state faces lawsuits receiving national attention for its mistreatment and neglect of both incarcerated people and children in foster care.

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