Amendment Two, 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-time 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 Two would result in local governments losing 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.
The West Virginia Senate recently released an outline of a plan to eliminate business personal property taxes and use state revenues to reimburse counties, schools, and municipalities for the hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax revenue that would be lost if Amendment Two were to pass. While the Senate claims the plan would replace all $500 million+ in lost property tax revenue without raising other taxes – while also allowing for the eventual full elimination of the income tax – the plan is based on unrealistic revenue and spending assumptions that have been highly influenced by the pandemic and the tens of billions of federal aid West Virginia has received in the past two years.
Under normal budget scenarios, the Senate’s promised local government reimbursement would quickly become unsustainable. Without major new sources of revenue or painful state budget cuts, it is unlikely the Senate would be able to fulfill its promise to local governments, putting local services like public education, emergency and fire response, parks, libraries, and senior centers at grave risk.
Read our full fact sheet on the Senate plan here.
Last week, we published an issue brief further explaining how property taxes function, the details of Amendment Two, and the negative implications for local governments if the amendment were to pass. You can read the full brief here. Please note: an appendix with county by county impacts is included at the end of this publication.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act and the House is expected to quickly follow. This new legislation marks the most significant national climate bill ever passed, while also improving access to affordable health care, creating jobs in manufacturing and clean energy, and putting downward pressure on the inflation and rising costs facing families across the country. All told, the provisions of the legislation will have outsized impacts on West Virginia families and workers.
The Inflation Reduction Act contains three major health coverage and prescription provisions that will have particularly important impacts for West Virginians: extensions of higher subsidies for people who purchase their health coverage through the individual health insurance marketplace, reduced prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and funding for West Virginians with black lung disease.
The Inflation Reduction Act also provides a historic investment of $369 billion in climate-related provisions that are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below their 2005 peak by 2030. It invests $260 billion in new and expanded clean energy tax credits for production of solar, wind, hydropower, and other sources of renewable energy. These credits will support both energy generation as well as manufacturing of renewable energy parts. There is also $80 billion allocated for new rebates for electric vehicles and energy efficient home appliances. Altogether, these provisions will create an estimated 9 million jobs over the next decade.
These investments in climate and health, which will benefit all West Virginians, are funded through Medicare prescription drug savings and provisions to close tax loopholes and enforce the tax code.
Each of the provisions outlined above will have outsized impacts on West Virginians. But of note, provisions that also would have made a huge impact on our state’s families including an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit, investments in child care and home- and community-based care workers, and paid family and medical leave were all left out of the final package. Each of those provisions would have made it far more affordable for West Virginians to balance work and family. While we celebrate and support the overall package, we urge our federal lawmakers to continue working towards these additional, and imperative, supports.
Read Kelly’s full blog post.
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 costs of insulin continue to rise while income wages remain stagnant, exacerbating pressure on individuals and families to skip or ration insulin doses in order to make ends meet.
You can help us in our fight to urge Congress to take action! If you or your family is being impacted by insulin costs or rationing, please consider completing our survey and aiding us in our advocacy– we appreciate your time and insight.
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.
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