Budget on Hold as Legislature Adjourns for a Week of Negotiating

May 5, 2017

Lawmakers are postponing work on the 2018 state budget another week after the House of Delegates voted to kill a tax reform measure presented by members of the Senate and Gov. Jim Justice.

The Senate voted 32 to 1 Friday afternoon in favor of the tax reform bill that was then killed in a 59 to 34 vote in the House shortly after.

The bill as approved by the Senate would have:

  • restructured and lowered the personal income tax, setting benchmarks for a potential repeal
  • increased the consumer sales tax by 1 percent and gotten rid of several exemptions, including cell phones, electronic data processing services and gym memberships
  • increased the corporate net income tax by 1 percent
  • restructured the coal severance tax, charging a range of 2.5 to 8 percent based on the price per ton

The Governor’s version of the bill included changes to the natural gas severance tax, but those were amended out of the bill before it was approved in the upper chamber.

Leadership in both chambers, however, agreed to adjourn the session until May 15, when they hope to return with a budget deal.

The other bills presented to lawmakers by Justice during the special session are still outstanding in both chambers. They include a teacher pay raise, increasing the gasoline tax, and extending the tolls on the state turnpike.