State Should Proceed with Caution on Tax Reform, Think Tank Says

Register-Herald - Lawmakers are taking a stab at tax reform, promising improved economic growth and a better business climate. But based on tax reform results of the past, the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy says that state residents should be skeptical of any new reconstitution of tax policy, particularly if it comes from the organization referenced by Senate President Bill Cole in his remarks to the Tax Reform Committee this week. Read

Cole said he merely mentioned the Rich States, Poor States report done by the American Legal Exchange Council because West Virginia had dropped to 36th in overall rankings for economic outlook, emphasizing that only the committee would be drafting tax reform legislation here.

Rich States, Poor States shows West Virginia's gross domestic product on the rise at nearly 8 percent, after a 2012 plunge, and now outpacing the nation's overall GDP; however non-farm payroll employment, also on the rise, still hovers around zero, after a dip into negative percentages.

The state got good marks from ALEC because of its lack of estate/inheritance tax, but ranks 50th because West Virginia is not a right-to-work state and for its former tort laws, which were overhauled by this year's Legislature.

Some of those were also ALEC's aims, including the open and obvious laws that limit a trespasser's right to sue a property owner if he or she is injured while being on the property illegally.

"ALEC's Rich States, Poor States' rankings bear no relationship to actual economic growth. It's mostly about encouraging states to race to the bottom on wages, taxes and regulations that benefit large multi-state corporations and very wealthy donors," said Ted Boettner, the center for budget and policy executive director.


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