Editorial: Another Tax Shift?

Charleston Gazette - New legislative leaders are studying a major realignment of state taxes, through the Joint Senate Select Committee on Tax Reform. A recent meeting offered a glimpse of what lawmakers have in mind, such as further tax cuts and even eliminating the personal income tax. Read

In coming months, GOP leaders presumably will clarify whether they want their 2015 reform to be "revenue-neutral" — producing the same level of support for state government, but shifting taxes from one group to another — or whether they want to reduce overall revenue.

If total revenue is lowered, the tax-cutters must spell out exactly what state services will be reduced: Will West Virginia have fewer state troopers, or mine inspectors, or highway workers, or schoolteachers, or college professors, or food inspectors, etc.?

Any high school student can understand this simple arithmetic: If state funds are crimped, again, the state payroll must be trimmed by laying off certain public employees. Tax-cutters must have enough integrity to list agencies that would be cut.

Gov. Tomblin commented: "The bottom line is, it's going to demand so much money to run this government, and you've got to do it in a responsible manner."

In a recent Gazette commentary, analyst Ted Boettner, of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, pointed out that West Virginia erased $225 million in business taxes over the past few years in hope it would lure firms and create jobs — but it didn't work.


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