Special session called to pass West Virginia budget


West Virginia Governor Jim Justice is calling the legislature back next week for a special session to pass a state budget.

When the emergency legislative session starts next week in Charleston, the goal is to get in and out of the capitol with a budget bill as quickly as possible. But to do that, legislators might have to pull some special maneuvers.

“Last year was just, in a word, it was miserable and it was miserable for everybody involved, because we went down and we were there for a month,” said Delegate Ryan Weld (R-District1).

Last year's clashes over spending were a drawn out affair, something the Senate and House hope to avoid by having a budget plan agreed upon and in place before arriving at the Capitol.

“Usually a bill has to be read a separate time on three different days,” Weld said. “We can take a 4/5 of the body and suspend the rule and advance on the same day and vote on it and passing it over to the House."

A same-day vote saves taxpayer dollars, but getting a budget that the Senate, House and the governor all agree on comes down to a few things.

“The governor had originally proposed what is in essence a B&O tax on businesses here in the state and that taxes their gross instead of their net and that was a non-starter for us in the Senate and also in the House,” Weld said.

He wants to nix the gross revenue tax in favor of income tax reform.

“We want to see a simplification of the brackets going from five down to three. And what that would result in is the two top brackets would see a result in about 20 percent in their state income tax and the lowest bracket income earners they would see a reduction of 40 percent."

Ideological differences aside, the danger of a repeat of last year, a month-long marathon session, might come down to a sea change of state politics and dealing with a new governor.

“You know for the first time in a very long time, in over eight decades, the legislature is controlled by Republicans,” Weld said.

The special legislative session starts next Thursday. Lawmakers will report to the Capitol at 11 a.m.

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