State legislators outline vision for 2018 session

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Heading into the 2018 state legislative session, Republicans control the levers of government, and Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R) says that means they have to deliver.

Speaking at the 2018 Legislative Preview Lunch in Harrison County, Carmichael said the Senate will consider an elimination of the state's personal property tax on business inventory and equipment.

"Every economist recognizes this is the biggest job killing tax we have in West Virginia," Carmichael told the crowd in Bridgeport. "You're taxing the very capital equipment that creates jobs."

Carmichael is proposing a seven-year phase out of the tax, cutting it by $20 million a year.

The tax brings in about $140 million in revenue to counties in the state. Much of that goes to school districts.

Carmichael recognizes that money is a valuable investment, and vows to preserve the revenue the tax generates through other means.

Speaking to 5 News after the luncheon, House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D) said he is skeptical of the proposal.

"It doesn't sound like there is a dedicated funding mechanism," Miley remarked. "He's just promising an income stream in the future and if we're in tough budget times again, we won't be able to afford it. So I'm not sure how he's going to backfill it in the future years, if we don't install a dedicated funding stream now."

The elimination of the business inventory tax would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment, and Carmichael says the amendment would include language that preserves the funding school districts get from the tax.

In the video above, Carmichael outlines alternative sources for the funding.

The luncheon, which was sponsored by the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, featured speeches from legislators from across the aisle.

There was a bipartisan consensus that the state legislature must address issues involving tourism and the state's drug epidemic.