The State Journal – As the coal market continues to crumble, the West Virginia coal sector is jumping at any opportunity it can find to give itself a competitive advantage. However, industry leaders fear they’ll ultimately need more than the state might be willing to give them in order to survive. Read
One small step
In what’s being touted as a much-needed boost for the coal sector and the economy as a whole, the West Virginia Legislature voted to pass Senate Bill 419, which reallocates Workers’ Compensation Fund fees that have primarily been paid by the coal and natural gas industries to the General Fund, before removing these taxes altogether at the beginning of July. The measure will provide an additional $92 million to the state budget this fiscal year.
The additional tax was already planned to sunset when the debt was paid off, but with only $90 million of unfunded liability left to pay off, as of June 30, 2015 — a dramatic reduction from the $2.4 billion in debt at the end of FY 2005 — state leaders decided it was time to scale back the proceeds going into the fund.
“The workers’ comp debt was paid off a lot faster than anticipated, largely because of natural gas we didn’t really anticipate,” said Sean O’Leary, a senior policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.