State Government

Blair said he is willing to consider Justice’s proposed tax cut

CHARLESTON  — State Senate President Craig Blair said his gut tells him the state cannot afford an additional 5% cut in the personal income tax but he’s willing to discuss it.  

Blair, during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” Tuesday,  said Gov. Jim Justice’s proposal for the cut, which would be in addition to an expected 3%-4% cut from an already approved trigger, may be too much for the state to handle right now given some new fixed costs that are hitting future state budgets.  

“First of all, like the Third Grade Success Act, that’s another $33 million, that’s a base build that comes in next year; Behavioral Health Centers, another $25 million; PEIA, $61 million; and the Hope Scholarship by 2027 is going to end up being $200 million a year,” Blair said on “Talkline.” 

Each percentage cut in the personal income tax costs the state budget about $20 million.  

Despite those concerns, Blair said he doesn’t want to take anything off the table when talking with the governor’s office.  

“Lots of time the executive (governor’s office) can come in and say there are other things we can address to bring other revenues in and our revenues continue to grow,” Blair said.  

Del. Hollis Lewis, D-Kanawha, said he’s looking at Justice’s plan with caution.  

“We don’t want to cut ourselves where we are actually cutting into services that the people of this state need,” Lewis said during an appearance Tuesday on WCHS Radio’s 580Live with Dave Allen. “I think we should slow down and make sure we are doing things deliberately and intentionally.” 

State Senate Finance Committee Chair Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, has said the state needs to allow its previous tax cuts to “bake” awhile in the economy, creating more revenue and then consider further tax cuts.  

House Finance Committee Chair Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said on “Talkline” Monday he would favor considering Justice’s proposal before a new governor takes office next year. 

Blair said in the end the Republican super majority will reach a compromise with the governor’s office such as has happened on many other issues.  

“This is how we got here, by all of us being seated at the table, working together, compromising with each other and that’s what will happen in this instance as well,” Blair said.  

Justice has said he’ll call a special session for August or September.