Wednesday, June 29, 2022


The Supreme Court weakens Miranda rights protections, a campaign gathers signatures to start a consumer-owned utility in Maine, and the Jan. 6 Committee subpoenas former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.


Immigration advocates criticize border policies after migrants die in a tractor-trailer, the U.S. opens a permanent headquarters for U.S. forces in Poland, and a House committee hears about growing housing inequity.


From flying saucers to bologna America's summer festivals kick off, rural hospitals warn they do not have the necessities to respond in the post-Roe scramble, countering voter suppression, and campaigns encourage midterm voting in Indian Country.

Analysis: Evaluate Tax Breaks to Help Shut State Budget Gap


Friday, August 16, 2013   

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia faces another budget gap next year, but experts say much of it could be made up by figuring out which tax breaks are not living up to their promises.

The state expects a $300 million shortfall in 2014, and the governor has told agencies to expect another round of steep spending cuts.

Sean O'Leary, a policy analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, says the state should first look at tax breaks that reduce revenue.

He asserts the state does a very poor job of tracking how much the various tax breaks cost, let alone which ones are worthwhile.

"I think we could close a significant part of that budget gap if we actually took the time to come up with a number of these tax expenditures and ask the question, are they working?" he says.

The state estimates a tax credit on alternative-fuel vehicles, including flex-fuel cars and trucks, has cost a $100 million. That was much more than expected.

O'Leary says there are many other tax breaks that deserve more attention.

Last year, O'Leary was one of the authors of a West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy report on the dozens of tax breaks intended to speed economic growth. He says the center found the state didn't even know how much tax breaks cost each year, let alone how many jobs they spark.

"If it's to create jobs, are we creating jobs?” he asks. “If it's to encourage coal production, is it encouraging coal production?

“We don't ask these questions and we don't even know the true cost of all these tax expenditures."

Tax-break supporters say they do help the state promote economic development.

But officials including the secretary of commerce and the chair of the Senate Finance Committee have in the past publicly said the current level of oversight is lacking.

O'Leary cites a severance tax break that mine companies get for taking coal out of thin seams.

"Is that an activity we want to encourage?” he questions. “Is that helping the coal industry?

“Is it encouraging more production or is that something that's occurring naturally? We don't know, but we do know that it's costing $75 million a year, and growing each year."

get more stories like this via email

The United States generates more plastic waste than any other country, according to a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. (EAD72/Adobe Stock)


California lawmakers are considering a bill today to cut down on single-use plastics that are choking the nation's landfills and oceans. Senate Bill …


Members of Nevada's African American community say they're channeling the spirit of Juneteenth to fight for environmental justice. Church-affiliated …

Health and Wellness

Wisconsin's 173-year-old abortion ban faces a legal test, as the state's Democratic leaders announced Tuesday they are suing to overturn it. The …

Some older adults in Connecticut may be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which can help decrease energy-related costs and fuel usage at home through retrofits and other improvements. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Starting Friday, Connecticut residents may start to see a sharp increase in energy costs just as summer gets into gear and inflation hits people hard…

Social Issues

A new study found an association between what researchers are calling the biological age of sperm and reproductive success. While age is considered …

Advocates for older Iowans say elder abuse can happen in many forms, including physical assaults, financial exploitation and neglect. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

This Friday, Iowa's new elder abuse law goes into effect. Those who pushed for its passage hope victims are aware of the added protections and will …


Mapping migration routes is important for conserving species such as pronghorn, so supporters hope Congress will fund mapping efforts. The United …

Social Issues

Workers at a hospital on the Oregon coast are citing a victory in contract negotiations with their employer. More than 100 members of SEIU Local 49 …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021