Special to HNN from a Provided Press Release

CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued the following statement today regarding his proposed legislation to lower the food tax by one-percent.

“While other states like Wisconsin and Virginia are cutting benefits to state employees, our record of strong fiscal stewardship has put us in the position to do something positive this year.

During the session, when the focus should have been on providing broad tax relief to everyone in reducing the food tax, the focus somehow turned solely to pay raises . . . for everyone in the public sector.

The problem, however, is that very few people in the private sector have seen an increase in pay. I believe in our public employees and our professional educators, but I cannot in good conscience single them out as more deserving than seniors, veterans, private sector workers, students and everyone else.

We’ve all sacrificed, we’ve all contributed to the strong financial condition we’ve got now, and everyone deserves to see their tax burden lowered.

We need to pass a responsible one-cent reduction on the food tax, and we need to pass it now. There are mechanisms in the Legislature that allow for a reduction to pass this week. And I will do all that I can to see it through.

A cut in the food tax delivers relief to every single West Virginian on the most regressive, unfair tax we have. It benefits students, seniors, coal miners, and teachers. It benefits everyone. We’ve tightened our belts together over the last decade, and we deserve to share in the benefits together.

I will not yield on this. I know our teachers need their salary increased. And if the Legislature passes permanent pay raises for state employees and teachers without making a responsible reduction in the food tax, I will call the Legislature into special session immediately after the Budget Bill is passed so that we can responsibly reduce the food tax to two-cents.

It is the least we can do.”