Senate Republicans unveiled their latest proposal to eliminate the business personal property tax this week, passing the proposal out of the Senate Finance Committee. The plan, which builds upon an earlier proposal to eliminate the property tax on manufacturing equipment, machinery, and inventory, would blow a nearly $100 million hole in the state budget, introduce inconsistency in the property tax system, and make West Virginia’s upside down tax system even more regressive.
The lowest income West Virginians would be hit the hardest, with the proposal raising their taxes by an average of $43, while middle-income West Virginians would see an overall tax increase of $39.
Those increases on low- and middle-income West Virginians are helping to pay for a substantial tax cut for the wealthiest in the state. The top 1% of taxpayers in West Virginia, those with an average income of $842,000 per year, would get a tax cut of $1,201 under the Senate’s proposal, once fully enacted.
Read more in Sean’s blog post.
Take action and urge your legislators to vote no on SJR 9 and protect local governments, public services, and our schools. Send a letter today.
On top of Senate Bill 655 that would reduce local property tax revenues from natural gas extraction (read more on that bill in Sean’s blog post), there are also several bills moving in the House that would give sizable tax reductions to natural gas and coal corporations.
House Bill 4439 would expand a 35% tax credit on the coal severance tax that was passed last year for new coal mines based on total state coal production, investment and employment to more coal mines based on their increase in metallurgical coal production as opposed to all coal production.
House Finance originated a bill on Tuesday (HB 4957) that would reduce business and occupation taxes on coal-fired utilities by $16 million. The Senate has also done the same (SB 793). These bills come on the heels of a bill passed last year to rescue the Pleasant Power Station with a $12.5 million reduction in their B&O taxes.
Read more in Ted’s blog post.
There’s been lots of action this week at the Capitol as Sunday, February 23 is the last day for bills to get out of committee to allow time for three days of readings by Crossover Day (February 26). Two bills on our Health Care for All WV agenda are still moving!
HB 4543, which addresses the rising cost of insulin by capping the maximum monthly copay for West Virginians with private insurance, passed the House overwhelmingly earlier this week. While there is still more to do to address prescription drug transparency and to help individuals who are uninsured access life-saving medication, the passage of this bill represents significant movement in the right direction.
SB 648, to provide dental benefits for Medicaid-enrolled adults, passed out of Senate Finance committee late Thursday afternoon. Bipartisan physicians on the committee, Drs. Takubo and Stollings, spoke about the health importance and potential Medicaid savings of making this important investment in oral health. Next up, the bill goes to the floor for a vote from the full Senate.
For more, read WVCBP board member Rick Wilson’s op-ed in the Charleston Gazette Mail earlier this week.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court affirmed the decision of a US District Judge striking down the legality of Medicaid work reporting requirements in Arkansas.
This is an important new development on top of federal district courts halting these programs in Kentucky and New Hampshire. While the court decision only applies to the injunction in Arkansas, it is likely to impact decision-makers in other states who are considering similar proposals and affirms the trend in states to back away from implementing them. A similar proposal has been introduced but not considered in West Virginia this legislative session (HB 4018).
If passed and implemented, an estimated 46,000 West Virginians or more would likely lose Medicaid coverage, leading to hundreds of millions of federal Medicaid dollars lost and doubtlessly spurring expensive litigation for the state.
Read more in Kelly’s blog post.
Good news! Yesterday HB 4905, the Ban the Box Act, passed out of House Judiciary and will be on first reading in the House on Monday.
Thirty-five states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what are widely known as “Ban the Box” policies. These policies provide applicants a fair chance at employment by removing the conviction history question from job applications and delaying background checks until later in the hiring process. This allows employers to judge applicants on their qualifications first, without the stigma of a record.
Read more in our report released last fall.
In other news, Senate Bill 286, which would have banned science-based syringe exchange programs looks to be finished for this session.
We were proud to stand with a remarkable coalition of advocates, harm- reduction experts, and those personally impacted by the opioid crisis to defeat this dangerous proposal.
As Ted pointed out in this op-ed, there are far more effective ways to effectively address harm reduction without resorting to negative stereotypes that only further stigma and endanger public health.
Be sure to email a note of thanks to Senate Health Chairman Dr. Mike Maroney for his leadership in keeping this dangerous bill off of the agenda.
This week, Ted testified at the Capitol on the dangers of a Constitutional Convention to call for term limits. For the past several sessions there have been various similar proposals to open up the U.S. Constitution to a convention of states, a dangerous, uncertain process. Read more about this week’s public hearing.
Ted was also quoted by the Associated Press this week in this article, countering Governor Justice’s assessment of the state’s economic picture.
Registration Now Open for the 2020 Summer Policy Institute
Registration is now open for this year’s Summer Policy Institute! Join us at Fairmont State University this July for a great weekend of policy discussion and networking!
Celebrate the two-year anniversary of the 2018 WV Teacher and Service Personnel strike. Hear and share stories about the strike, and listen to a very special guest, Diane Ravitch discuss her new book, Slaying Goliath, and the impact our strike made on her and the nation!
More information here. (This event is co-sponsored by AFT-WV, WVEA, WVSSPA, The WV Center on Budget and Policy, and Taylor Books).