By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New House of Delegates Finance Committee Chairman Eric Householder says he’s more interested in tax cuts than any tax increases.
“My vision is that we should be giving tax cuts right now. Currently we have a surplus and I think the moral thing to do is give the money back to the taxpayers,” Householder, R-Berkeley, said Thursday during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”
Householder, who was recently appointed by new House Speaker Roger Hanshaw and is set to start his fifth term in the House, said he’s never voted for a tax increase and doesn’t plan on doing so.
“I’m not looking forward to raising any new taxes whatsoever. I’ve held the line,” he said. “I’ve never voted for a tax increase and I don’t plan to start one.”
Householder will likely hear his share of tax increase proposals over the next couple of months during the legislative session. Those looking for an additional funding source for health insurance (PEIA) for state workers have been talking about a possible increase in severance taxes.
Gov. Jim Justice has already announced he’ll propose another five percent pay raise for teachers and other state workers in the new year. Householder called it a “possibility” Thursday. He said he favors pay raises to be linked to locality pay for teachers.
“I believe that’s the direction we should go,” Householder said. “But keep mind this is a decision the whole body (whole House) will have to make.”
Both the West Virginia Education Association and West Virginia American Federation of Teachers have in the past expressed concern about locality pay. Household said teachers will continue to leave border counties if something isn’t done.
“This is a solution to keep teachers in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. If not, I don’t know another solution they are proposing,” Householder said.
He wants to tackle the question of the elimination of the inventory tax on business by proposing a constitutional amendment.
“We need to get it on the ballot, allow the voters to pass it, before we decide which direction we want to go or have some future legislature decide,” he said.
Householder said what he really wants to do is tax reform.
“Why do we see so many of state’s residents leaving? People are voting with their feet. They are leaving in search of prosperity and we need to change that direction,” he said.
Householder said he sees tax reform as the trifecta for the Republican-controlled legislature.
“We’ve done tort reform. We did labor reform and I believe the next big item we need to do is tax reform,” Householder said.
He also supports the elimination of the tax on Social Security benefits, an issue Senate Democrats have tabbed as their top issue. Householder would also like to see the redirection of any future gambling revenues from the online retailers sales tax go toward the lowering of the state’s personal income tax.
The 60-day regular session of the legislature begins Jan. 9.