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Liberals think taxes are too low

November 29, 2013
By Mike Myer

Ever notice, fellow taxpayers, how liberals are quick to inform us we're not sending enough of our hard-earned dollars to Charleston and Washington? It's happening again in West Virginia.

Later this year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin probably is going to have to order another round of spending cuts in West Virginia state government. That's because revenue is not keeping pace with the budget for this fiscal year, which began July 1.

At the end of October, four months into the year, general fund revenue was nearly $42.5 million behind estimates. State Budget Office Director Mike McKown has warned the general fund may be $80 million in the red by next June 30.

Worse is to come, McKown cautions. The next fiscal year's budget may be $260 million out of balance.

It's all because of those irresponsible tax reductions, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy insists. The CBP cited $316 million a year lost due to tax breaks for business and elimination of the sales tax on food.

Blame it on the taxpayers, in other words. It's the old liberal claim that we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.

How about a dose of reality? A large part of the blame goes to legislators and governors many years ago, who approved public employee benefits way out of line with revenue to support them. As a result, billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities were built up. We're still paying nearly $400 million a year to reduce those debts.

But there's more to the story.

State officials were way too optimistic in the amount they plugged into the budget for personal income tax collections. For the period from July 1 to Oct. 31, actual collections were $35.4 million less than had been estimated. Revenue from consumer sales taxes was $3.2 million less than estimated. That's the bulk of the $42.5 million shortfall for the period.

Revenue from the personal income and sales taxes makes up nearly three-fourths of the $4.1 billion general fund budget. So if it continues to lag, McKown's prediction could, if anything, be overly optimistic.

But here's the thing: Personal income tax collections not only are lower than estimated - they are also about $13.6 million less for the four-month period than what flowed into Charleston during July-October last year. Our income taxes are based on how much we earn, so that number ought to raise concerns about the financial well-being of Mountain State families.

And the liberals say tax rates are too low?

Federal officials announced last week they are closing four courthouses, including one in Parkersburg, W.Va. Last year, courthouses in six other cities were closed. A total of nine states are affected. The move is intended to save money on rent, the officials say.

States affected are West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming.

All nine of the states went to Republican Mitt Romney, not President Barack Obama, in the 2012 election. All but one, North Carolina, went for John McCain, not Obama, in 2008. Strange how things like that work, isn't it?

Myer can be reached via e-mail at mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

 
 

 

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