Governor's Economic Development Package Passes W.Va. Legislature
The “largest economic development project” in state history, according to Gov. Jim Justice, has been approved by the West Virginia Legislature. It is expected to bring a major steel production facility to Mason County in western West Virginia.
In a special session, the West Virginia Legislature passed six bills proposed by the governor that make this economic development package possible.
The package will bring Nucor, a steel manufacturing and recycling company, to the state. The company told the state it will bring nearly $3 billion in capital investments along with 800 high paying jobs. Building the plant could create 1000 construction jobs over two years.
In exchange for that investment, the state is offering $315 million in matching money to the company. Nucor will be required to make certain investments before receiving the state money. It will also receive 50 percent tax credits against the capital investments.
State Tax Commissioner Mathew Irby indicated on Monday that it would take the company years to use up the tax credits. They aren’t payments, but credits against future taxes. A fiscal note from the state says the project should bring in $25 billion in revenue over the next 10 years.
The bills passed both chambers overwhelmingly. Del. Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, said it was an interesting but dangerous concept.
“We got the bill yesterday. It's been about 24 hours that we've had to work on this. Whether it's a good project or not, that's pretty fast,” he said. “And the amount of money involved is staggering. So be confident that we will all be asked questions when we leave the building about how it came about. And what the benefit is going to be. All of us want very desperately to have industrial wage jobs returned to the Mountain State. And if we got that to happen, then of course, we'd all be in pretty good shape on that.”
Del Mathew Rohrbach, R-Cabell, compared this opportunity to a project in 1985 in Kentucky when Toyota moved production facilities there with great success.
“This is a chance to make a generational investment in the future of this state and to try to get some revitalization going,” he said. “I thank the members of this body that are going to vote yes. Frankly, I hope it's all of us, because this investment is needed to revitalize our state. I look for just as great things to happen in the state of West Virginia.”
To raise the funds necessary for the matching money, the legislature took money out of several general revenue budget line items. Lawmakers backfilled that money with federal American Rescue Plan funds. There were no changes to the specific budgets.
If everything moves as agreed to in the memorandum of understanding between the state and the company, this project should be completed by Dec. 31, 2025.
The six bills in the package will now go to the governor for his signature.