During (the Feb. 8) address, the 36th Governor of West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice, offered his budget proposal.
Unfortunately, Governor Justice decided to double down on the ideas of the past – that lasting prosperity will come top-down from Charleston and not from its citizens, entrepreneurs, and businesses from all reaches of the state.
Offering over $17 in tax and fee increases for every $1 in spending cuts, Governor Justice offered a budget that had over $450 million in tax hikes with only $26.6 million in spending cuts.
“While we are disappointed that Governor Justice feels that more money needs to be funneled through Charleston rather than leaving it in the pockets of everyday West Virginians,” notes Garrett Ballengee, executive director of the Cardinal Institute. “We are in agreement with much of the Governor’s ‘Alternate Budget Proposal,’ that included many recommendations found in our ‘Wild & Wasteful Report.’”
The “Wild, Wasteful West Virginia” report lists several items the state should consider in its cost saving measures, including, ending subsidies to dog and horse racing, privatizing some of West Virginia’s public colleges and universities, and ending the Tobacco Education Program.
Increases in the sales tax, gasoline tax, toll fees, and the institution of a gross receipts tax were the Governor’s major revenue enhancements. The Cardinal Institute offers the following ideas as ways West Virginia can avoid fiscal crises in the future:
- Removal of exemptions from sales tax, such as those for legal and accounting services;
- Rely more heavily on consumption and property taxes and less so on distortionary income taxes;
- Employee buy-out programs for public employees; and the
- Systematic review of the economic forecasting models used by the governor’s office.
“If West Virginia’s future is to be different than its past, we cannot continue to do as we’ve always done,” said Ballengee.
(Courtesy of the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy)