Gilmer Free Press

WV Legislative Update

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I hope we’ve turned the corner on the weather and can settle into some traditional, crisp, low-humidity October weather.  It’s difficult to think of trout fishing with high water or hunting with temperatures near 90 degrees, but the grandkids are getting excited about the prospects of both.

With the heavy pipeline and highway construction underway across West Virginia, one indirect benefit is the positive bump in the state tax revenue collections.  The monthly collections numbers for September were released last week from the State Tax Department.

As of September, general revenue collections are running $119.8 million ahead of estimates.  The breakdown for the first three months of Fiscal Year 2019:

      July           $32.3 million

      August         $33.4 million

      September     $54 million

The tax collections were led by three major sources:  personal income tax (PIT); consumer sales tax (CST); and severance tax.  By the end of September, the first three months in these categories:

      PIT exceeded estimates by $43.8 million

      CST exceeded estimates by $21.2 million

      Severance exceeded estimates by $34.9 million

Make no mistake; these are strong numbers after the last few years of poor revenue.  However, it is almost entirely a result of the economic activity associated with construction and the good wages that accompany construction activity; a slight rebound in coal severance; and gas severance gaining strength and beginning to increase.

After these figures were released last week, Governor Justice held a press conference where he stated he was going to allocate $150 million to various areas.  This announcement coming less than a month before the election leaves me somewhat skeptical.  First, it is a requirement that one-half of a surplus must be deposited in the Rainy Day Fund.  Also, we have nine more months to go before we know what level of surplus we may have.  Finally, the Governor can propose a budget, but the Legislature is the branch of government that actually appropriates the funds, based on revenue estimates.  In short, it’s a little too early to start counting our chickens before they hatch.

As pipelines are completed, more gas will move, further increasing the severance income.  However, with pipeline completion, a major contributor to consumer sales tax and personal income tax will substantially decrease.

Meanwhile, the PEIA taskforce appointed by the Governor has not met since August.  In speaking with some of the task force members, apparently no meetings have been scheduled for the coming weeks.  Since the need for a permanent solution to the PEIA funding dilemma was one of the chief concerns that united teachers, school service personnel and state employees last session, further delays are not helpful going forward.

Another gubernatorial committee – the Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education – met at Bridgeport last week.  As previously announced, the committee rolled out a plan that I take great exception to as being totally unfair to Glenville State College.  While I expressed my displeasure and reasoned opposition to the plan by Marshall President Gilbert during the meeting, it remains a work in progress, with the Legislature having the final say during budget negotiations next session.  I’ll certainly keep you abreast of the developments on this committee.  A strong and vibrant GSC is absolutely necessary for central West Virginia to remain strong and a key building block for our future economic health.

Finally, here is a follow-up note on my previous reminder about employment opportunities with the upcoming decennial census of the United States in 2020.  As the census is a major national undertaking, the U.S. Census Bureau is gearing up and hiring is underway.  Recruiting Assistants are being solicited in every county in West Virginia and the United States. People hired for these positions will work from their homes and be reimbursed for mileage when they travel for their work. All should apply online at https://2020census.gov/jobs

No one knows an area better than local residents and the accurate count of our citizens is of major importance and impacts every community, county and state.  Since we are in a state with a shrinking population, it is more important than ever to obtain accurate information.

Please send your inquiries to my home office:  151 Park Street, Gassaway, WV 26624.  My home number is 304.364.8411; the Capitol office number is 304.340.3142.  If you have an interest in any particular bill or issue, please let me know.  For those with Internet access, my legislative e-mail address is:

You may also obtain additional legislative information, including the copies of bills, conference reports, daily summaries, interim highlights, and leave me a message on the Legislature’s web site at www.legis.state.wv.us/.  When leaving a message, please remember to include your phone number with your inquiry and any details you can provide. Additional information, including agency links and the state government phone directory, may be found at www.wv.gov. Also, you may follow me on Facebook at “Brent Boggs”, Twitter at “@DelBrentBoggs” , as well as the WV Legislature’s Facebook page at “West Virginia Legislature” or on Twitter at twitter.com/wvlegislature.

Continue to remember our troops - at home and abroad - and keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.  Until next week – take care.

--> Tuesday, October 09, 2018
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