Allegheny Mountain Radio and The Pocahontas Times collaborated on a candidate form for candidates for West Virginia House of Delegates, 43rd District. Prior to answering questions, the candidates gave an introduction.
Question One: West Virginia has one of the largest governments in proportion to state population. How do you feel about cutting funding from non-essential feel-good programs such as pork programs that only benefit certain special interests or small groups as a way to shrink the size of state government while maintaining essential services as opposed to raising taxes or fees?
Question Two: There is a five percent West Virginia severance tax imposed on gas extracted in the state which collected about $125 million in taxes in 2016. Beginning in December of 2005 there was also an additional temporary 4.7 percent gas severance tax per 1,000 cubic foot of extracted gas, as well as other temporary severance taxes on coal and timber, but the legislature ended these extra severance taxes in July 2016. Texas, for example charges a gas severance tax of 7.5 percent of the retail value of natural gas extracted in that state; Kansas, eight percent and Oklahoma, seven percent. Would you favor restoring those temporary severance taxes or increasing the severance tax rate as a way to balance the budget?
Question Three: In West Virginia, funding for public education – elementary, middle and high schools – does not appear to be viewed by our legislators as a very high priority like it is in other neighboring states such as Virginia, Ohio and Maryland where educating the next generation of citizens seems to be a top priority of state government. This is reflected in the poorer state of our school facilities and lower pay for our teachers. What changes in funding priorities can you bring to the Legislature to turn this around?
Question Four: Given that our roads are windy, narrow and steep and our Internet is very slow, and our cell service is either very poor or non-existent in much of Pocahontas County, do you have any innovative or fresh ideas to take to the Legislature bout how to create new jobs here or attract new businesses here?