CHARLESTON – Not content to wait until Wednesday for the start of the 60-day annual legislative session, Gov. Jim Justice issued a proclamation on Saturday evening calling on lawmakers for a special session starting this morning.
The proclamation and press release were distributed at 10:22 p.m. on Saturday, with lawmakers slated to hammer down at 11 a.m. today. Justice announced that he would introduce six bills, including bills dealing with tax incentives for heavy industry and new funding for the Ministry of Economic Development.
According to the proclamation, the first bill will create tax incentives based on certain investments and employment commitments for new and existing heavy industries that require substantial investments in capital and labor. The governor’s office called the bill the “West Virginia Industrial Advancement Act”.
“Recruiting additional businesses in the state and helping existing West Virginia businesses expand their operations and add employees to their payroll is the best hope for the future of West Virginia and West Virginia.” read the press release. “When they try to recruit companies today, states compete with each other. “
“In the past, other states with larger budgets often offered incentives that excluded West Virginia from the market. NOT ANYMORE! When we find a good prospect offering investment, jobs and growth, it is therefore paramount that the state does its best to compete for this business – for investment, jobs and growth ”, the release continued.
It is unclear which specific companies and industries these tax incentives are aimed at, although the governor’s office teased the announcement this week for “Potential investments”. During his COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Justice made a possible announcement on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when he delivers his sixth state-of-state speech in the Chamber of Delegates hall.
“I really encourage you to log in and watch as there are going to be some major announcements in the State of the State and more and more goodness coming to the State of West Virginia,” says justice. “I know we’re going to report some really, really exciting news that is going to be happening in West Virginia.”
The second to sixth bills would reduce budget appropriations within the state Ministry of Health and Human Resources and the Ministry of Homeland Security and transfer these appropriations to the Ministry of Economic Development.
“The credits that the governor asks the legislature to grant will be used by our Ministry of Economic Development to obtain huge private investments throughout the state,” the governor’s press release said. “These credits will mark the largest investment in economic development in the history of this state and pay untold dividends in recruiting businesses, their employees and families, and other private investments in West Virginia.” “
The reduced funding for DHHR and Homeland Security would be replaced by the available federal COVID-19 dollars. According to the state auditor’s office, the state still has $ 20.1 million in funds from the CARES (Aid, Relief and Economic Security) law against coronaviruses. The deadline for spending the remaining dollars has been extended to September 30 of this year instead of the end of 2021.
The state received $ 1.25 billion in funds from the CARES Act in March 2020. The state received an additional $ 1.36 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Congress in March 2021 The funds can be used for coronavirus-related expenses and reimbursements, as well as related broadband, water and infrastructure projects. The state received the first $ 677 million in May.
The Department of Economic Development would receive additional funding from excess tax revenue of nearly $ 400 million for the first six months of fiscal 2022 which began in July. Year-to-date tax revenue was $ 2.5 billion, 18.7% more than the Revenue Ministry’s estimate of revenue of $ 2.1.
It was also not known how much money would be transferred from the various credits and how much would come from the current surplus in tax revenues.
Lawmakers are already expected to vote on the state of the 60-day annual legislative session at noon on Wednesday, Jan.12. Lawmakers arrived at the State Capitol Building on Sunday for the start of the January interim legislative meetings.
Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at email@example.com.