CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Sometimes the best way to exchange ideas is to break bread with others. That’s what happened at Friday’s annual “Budget Breakfast” from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
A lot of people are focused on the state’s budget surplus, which may balloon to $700. Democrats say cut the sales tax for everyone from 6 percent to 4.75 percent.
“That’s what the Democratic Party, we’re asking that we have a tax cut on goods and things coming into the state so the people have more money,” said State Sen. Owens Brown, (D) Ohio County.
Earlier this week, Republicans proposed an income tax cut for all workers in the Mountain State.
“You’re going to see personal income tax reduction for all West Virginians. You’re not going to see any tax increases of any kind, or shifting of any taxes,” said Del. Eric Householder, (R) Berkeley – Finance Chairman.
We’ll get a better idea of the governor’s $5 billion proposed budget when he addresses a joint session of the Legislature next Thursday night, but many budget analysts say the surpluses could be fleeting. So, they advise caution to both sides of the aisle.
“If you cut taxes today with this surplus, that means next year, you’re going to have to make budget cuts. These surpluses aren’t sustainable. So any tax cut that happens, means if it’s the sales tax, if it’s the income tax, if it’s the property tax, means there’s going to be budget problems down the line,” said Sean O’Leary, a Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
Complicating matters are spending promises that have already been made. For example, all state employees, teachers and school personnel were promised raises by the Governor and Republican leaders.
“I’m anxious to see if both the five-percent salary, and the two-and-a-half-percent bonus goes through. People need it right now, People need to show that they’ve been respected,” said Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association.
Right now those pay hikes and bonuses are estimated to cost the state $108 million this year. Both Republicans and Democrats believe they can pay for their proposed tax cuts from surplus funds, without any tax increases.