Tax reform after Amendment 2′s defeat
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice contends a car tax rebate will be his top priority when the Legislature returns in January, yet it remains far from a guarantee.
Justice reaffirmed his stance Tuesday night after voters resoundingly rejected Amendment Two.
Every county except one, Berkeley, voted against the change that would have allowed lawmakers to eliminate the car tax and certain other taxes that fund local government.
Justice had traveled the state for weeks urging voters to oppose the amendment, arguing that he could do away with the car tax without taking money from emergency and other services.
The Justice Administration declined WSAZ’s request to speak on camera Wednesday, instead directing the station to a video statement released Tuesday night on how Justice would make good on that promise now that voters rejected the amendment.
“The very first thing, on the very first minute of our session when we come back in, will be my bill to absolutely get rid of your car tax and retroactively send you the money back that you paid on your January 2022,” he said. “You paid it in September and it should come immediately right back to you.”
But that may be easier said than done. Any such legislation would have to pass the House and Senate.
Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, believes any plan that would have you pay a tax to receive a rebate is too complicated.
“We’re trying to streamline our government,” he said. “This is not streamlining government. This is creating more government jobs to go through a bureaucracy that is unnecessary.”
A place of potential compromise -- cutting the state income tax.
It’s the next item on the governor’s to-do list. With the defeat of Amendment Two, Blair agrees the time may be right.
All of that is dependent on another factor -- a new class of lawmakers.
For instance, the GOP-dominated state Senate will receive seven new senators.
“The voters may have voted down the constitutional amendments, but what they did was they voted in new senators and new delegates, and we need to hear from those new delegates to help determine our path forward,” Blair said.
It all begins when the new Legislature gavels in Jan. 11, 2023.
And that Legislature will have a much deeper shade of red.
The Republican supermajority picked up another 10 seats in the House of Delegates -- now controlling 88 of 100 seats.
In the state Senate, Republicans won all except one race Tuesday night -- picking up seven seats -- and leaving just four Democrats in the 34-seat Senate.
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