To the Editor;
I’ve been following the news from Charleston with increasing disbelief. As everyone probably knows, the latest figures on life expectancy in the US show that West Virginia is dead last of the 50 States and DC. Our average life expectancy is more than a year shorter than Arkansas and a full three years shorter than Georgia. We also rank in the bottom six in education. We need help.
Against this backdrop, it seems that the West Virginia Legislature is preparing to eliminate the State Income Tax — which would be a fabulous tax break for Jim Justice and the richest citizens — while raising the sales tax to around 8%, about the highest in the entire US, and reducing funding for education and other important programs.
A sales tax is an “elder tax” that hurts the elderly and those on fixed incomes. A high sales tax will drive commerce away from our State in favor of surrounding states, and will certainly keep us at the bottom of both life expectancy and education rankings. Who would want to move to West Virginia where poor health, poor education and a high sales tax are all features? Do our elected representatives really want to keep us on the bottom?
Instead, we should reduce the sales tax to 5% or less. That would make shopping in West Virginia attractive to citizens of surrounding states, with a strong boost for the overall economy. It would also be good for the elderly. And spending on education should be increased — that’s the best bang for the buck. If it means a slight increase in the income tax rate so be it. Jim Justice can afford it.
If Jim Justice really needs more money to pay his bills please don’t take it out of the pockets of every other citizen through an elder tax. He should do what we do at the Durbin Lions Club — hold a pancake dinner.