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State EITC Hailed As Bipartisan Job Creation, Development Idea

Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell County, says a state EITC could make West Virginia more appealing for employers by rebuilding the state workforce. (Dan Heyman)
Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell County, says a state EITC could make West Virginia more appealing for employers by rebuilding the state workforce. (Dan Heyman)
April 15, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Some Republican lawmakers say a state Earned Income Tax Credit would add jobs by rebuilding West Virginia's workforce.

The EITC is a line on federal tax forms that rewards work by low-income families. About half of states also have a state EITC. Del. Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell County, said some GOP members want to add West Virginia. By rewarding people for taking low-wage employment, he said, the tax credit could reduce the number of folks who feel hopeless and disconnected from the job market. In turn, Rohrbach said, a happier workforce would make the state more appealing to employers.

"This is an attempt to keep people here, get them working, get our workforce numbers up, get our participation numbers up," he said, "and then, hopefully, we can attract better-paying employers."

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy has estimated that a state EITC one-seventh the size of the federal one would cost $47 million a year and help 140,000 working-poor households.

The governor and legislators still are struggling to close a big gap in the current budget. Rohrbach admitted that the EITC is a "tough sell" this year, but said once the state gets past the present "painful" money problems, it's going to start thinking long-term again.

"I would fit this into one of the longer-term solutions - to support people, to get them in entry-level jobs, and then get them some experience, and they can grow from there," he said. "But the first step has got to be to get them in the workforce."

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has said it plans to introduce state EITC legislation in the next regular session.

More information is online at investinwvfamilies.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV