CHARLESTON – President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan could be approved by the United States House of Representatives today, but a provision inserted into the bill sparked a rant from Governor Jim Justice against the sole United States Democratic Senator from West Virginia.
Justice, in its Monday morning COVID-19 virtual briefing with the State Capitol Building press, blamed U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., for a provision of the $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package that would limit any use of federal coronavirus relief dollars to offset losses due to legislative changes in state tax revenues.
“It’s terrible, it’s absolutely terrible” says justice. “What was written in the law was written there mainly by Joe Manchin. Joe Manchin is supposed to be your representative, West Virginia. Do you know what he does? He’s trying to hit me. That’s all we can say about it. “
The provision specifies that ” A state[…]will not use the funds provided[…]to compensate directly or indirectly for a reduction in the net tax revenue of such a State[…]resulting from a change in law, regulation or administrative interpretation[…]which reduces all taxes[…]or delay the imposition of any tax or tax increase.
“In this situation, (Manchin) absolutely doubled-tripled to hit me for some reason,” says justice. “What he’s doing is hurting West Virginia. It’s just a slap in the face for West Virginia.
A spokesperson for Manchin would neither confirm nor deny the senator’s involvement in this provision. But in a statement on Monday, Manchin said justice should work with him instead of criticizing him.
“Instead of political attacks that do nothing to help hard-working West Virgins, I welcome the opportunity to speak with the Governor of Justice about the best ways to improve the lives of West Virginia people with more. the $ 2 billion in federal funding that I got for our state in this bill, ” said Manchin.
The justice unveiled its tax reform legislation last week, although the bill has yet to be formally introduced in the House of Delegates or the state Senate. It includes a 60% year-over-year reduction in most personal income tax classifications, as well as a $ 52 million tax refund for families earning less than $ 35,000 a year. The total tax cuts are over $ 1.087 billion.
The Justice Department’s tax reform plans also include $ 902.6 million in proposed tax increases for the sales and consumption tax; a tiered departure tax for fossil fuels; a tax on certain luxury goods; and increased taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic cigarettes, beer, wine, spirits and sodas. Even with additional savings and efficiencies, the plan leaves a $ 90 million gap.
The $ 1.9 trillion Biden package includes $ 350 billion in aid to state, county and municipal governments. The funding can be used to offset lost tax revenue attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and closures, although the bill includes provisions prohibiting states from using funding from public pension plans as well as cuts. compensatory taxes.
Manchin said the $ 1.9 trillion package includes $ 1.25 billion for the state and $ 624 million in direct funding for county and municipal governments. The bill also includes $ 800 million for public education funding, $ 260 million for child care, $ 10 million for Head Start, $ 140 million for broadband expansion as well. than $ 2 million for Wi-Fi hotspots and millions more for funding vaccine distribution and rural health care.
“Policy differences do not justify personal attacks” said Manchin. “I want to work with the Governor of Justice in the best interests of our state.”
Manchin sharply criticized the justice’s handling of the $ 1.25 billion sent to West Virginia for state and local government COVID-19 spending last April through the $ 2.2 trillion federal CARES bill. of dollars. Manchin accused the judiciary last year of taking too long to send money to local governments in the hope that the federal government would ease restrictions to allow funds from the CARES Act to fill the budget.
According to the state auditor’s office, more than $ 660 million of the $ 1.25 billion in reimbursement from the CARES Act remains in the accounts of the state treasurer’s office.
Justice and state revenue officials said $ 400 million of this balance was needed to repay a $ 157 million interest-free loan through the US Department of Labor to maintain the solvency of the trust fund. West Virginia unemployment as well as additional funds to replenish the fund. The interest-free period was to end on March 14.
During his State of State speech on February 10, justice called for the creation of a third rainy day fund to help cover possible deficits as personal income tax is gradually removed. During his remarks to lawmakers, he speculated that the federal government could forgive the state’s unemployment loan, freeing up $ 660 million to be put into the new rainy day. “tub.”
“What do you think will happen with the Biden Stimulus package? What could happen? They could forgive all the dollars we have invested in unemployment ”, Justice said last month. “What if we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars more? Put them in the bucket. Don’t spend them.
Justice reversed that idea Monday while also criticizing the Biden coronavirus package for limiting how the state can use those dollars.
“My extra rainy day bucket had nothing to do… in the world with taking CARES money and putting it here in a rainy day bucket for tax relief.” says justice. “If we had just run our state better than other states that are absolutely democratic run and totally out of control … shouldn’t we be given the opportunity to do with that money what we want to do with that money that doesn’t will that help the West Virginians and help us become better and bring us more and more opportunities?
The Biden plan includes $ 1,400 in direct payments to people earning less than $ 75,000, a $ 3,000 child tax credit and makes it fully refundable, and extends improved unemployment benefits until September 6 to 300 $ per week – a deal advocated by Manchin after the House of Representatives spent an extension of $ 400 per week through August.
Manchin and US Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va, tried to make the package less broad and more specifically tailored to the economic problems created by the pandemic. During these negotiations, Justice officially called for a major stimulus package. He maintained those statements on Monday, while admitting that the bill contained unnecessary elements.
“I frankly believe that a really, really bigger stimulus package at this point and at this point is what it takes to finally climb the steepest part of the mountain,” says justice. “To be perfectly honest, our federal government has a way of putting so much pork in it that… it’s a terrible mistake, but it happens all the time.
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