By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail
During discussion in Senate Finance Committee Monday on how to close a potential $300 million fiscal hole that a proposed phase-out of a variety of personal property taxes would blow into county, school board and municipal budgets, Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow made a very astute observation.
Muchow — one of the sharpest minds ever to grace the hallways of the Capitol — noted that if the state’s dirt-low real property tax rates were comparable to rates in other states, that would provide an extra $1 billion a year of revenue. Billion with a “B.”
Like the trees forming a giant “W” in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Muchow showed us where the buried treasure is hiding in plain sight — and like the hapless characters in that movie, the senators missed the clue.
Since before the start of the session, and many sessions before, the West Virginia Manufacturers Association has been pushing the Legislature to repeal personal property taxes on manufacturing equipment, machinery and inventory — this being the latest incarnation of, “If we just cut this one last business tax, we’ll finally achieve economic nirvana.”