Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tax cut on the way, ailing W.Va. coal seeks even bigger break

(AP) — Already set for a break, ailing West Virginia coal is making a late-game plea for a bigger tax cut.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill Monday dropping a 56-cent-per-ton coal surtax by July at the latest, worth about $51.5 million in the 2017 budget. It has helped pay a workers' compensation debt for years.

Later Monday, senators began pushing for an overall coal severance tax from 5 to 4 percent in July 2018, and 3 percent in July 2019. State coal association president Bill Raney said coal needs any help possible. The cost is uncertain.

The proposal requires a Senate vote by Wednesday. Democratic senators worried the break would hamstring future state budgets and reduce coal revenue for already-hurting coal-producing counties.

The state expects a $466 million 2017 budget gap.