Eliminating government funding for the universities in West Virginia and Marshall is one of the options Paul Espinosa listed in a poll of Republican colleagues.
Espinosa said he wanted to know what tax hikes and budget cuts Republicans are ready to get rid of the state’s income tax. In an informal poll that Espinosa, R-Jefferson sent out to GOP members of the House, he asked delegates if they would consider raising the state sales tax to 8% and cutting state funding for Marshall and WVU as well stop the Promise Scholarship.
The poll asked lawmakers to consider 12 options lawmakers could exercise to offset the cost of losing $ 2.1 billion in income tax when incurring income tax during the governor’s current tenure Jim Justice, which ends in 2024, will be repealed.
On Wednesday, Espinosa spoke to the media with a group of House executives during the West Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Lookahead, held via conference call.
Espinosa said any suggestion that the options in the survey were part of a fixed plan was “ridiculous”.
“In general, we routinely reach out to our members to assess their perspective on various issues, or even components of issues, to determine whether they are part of any law they can support or, equally important, if not more importantly, what components do not start, ”Espinosa said. “In all honesty, we sometimes even ask our members questions when we feel like they’re a non-runner or don’t have much support just to confirm it.”
“I think it’s fair to say … some of them are non-starters.”
Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, said the income tax abolition will be funded through “efficiency gains in state government.” Governor Jim Justice has also expressed support for the tax abolition.
In Espinoa’s poll, he suggested the following options:
- Increase sales tax to 8% and possibly higher
- Extension of the increased sales tax to previously untaxed items such as professional services, advertising, hair care and contract services.
- Put the food tax back at 2.5% to 3%
- Special additional sales tax on luxury goods over and above the regularly increased sales tax
- Temporarily increase income tax for high earners until the tax is finally eliminated
- Budget cuts of 5% to 10%, including public and higher education, and the Ministry of Health and Human Resources.
- Graduated severance tax on coal and gas, which leads to an immediate increase in the taxation of metallurgical coal
- Reduction in university funding
- Eliminate all government funding for WVU and Marshall
- Transfer of the tax on non-alcoholic beverages from the medical faculty of the WVU to the general income
- Eliminating or reducing the Promise Scholarship
- Legalization and Taxation of Marijuana
For the current fiscal year, the state provided US $ 110.7 million for the WVU’s general fund and US $ 49.2 million for Marshalls.
The list doesn’t indicate whether the proposed cuts for Marshall and WVU would include state allocations to their respective medical schools. The state allocated $ 16.4 million to WVU’s Health Sciences Center and $ 13.6 million to Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
The WVU also receives all income for the West Virgina Pop Tax, the tax on soft drinks. The legislature generally does not deal with income from the pop tax, as the state law expressly stipulates that the WVU “builds, maintains and operates a four-year school for medicine, dentistry and nursing”.
The West Virginia legislature is expected to meet for its regular 60-day session on February 10th.