This week the Legislature began the 2010 Regular Session of the 79th Legislature. Once again, I am excited about the possibilities of the ongoing session but I am also realistic about the financial issues facing West Virginia.
Earlier this year, the governor requested agencies to trim their budget mid year, the first mid year budget cut requests since the Wise administration. West Virginia has done well in weathering the national recession, but we will still have to make some tough economic decisions to offset future projected budget shortfalls. In preparing for the session the House Finance Committee, its members and staff, have been diligently examining the figures looking for ways to trim the budget while maintaining the needed services.
We have been fiscally responsible over the last few years and have done a good job in building our Rainy Day Fund which is used for emergencies and natural disasters while also not frivolously spending our surpluses for political gains. We must continue to use our financial resources wisely to bolster the economy in front of the projected shortfalls in the coming years.
On Wednesday, the members of the Legislature joined together in the House chamber to listen to the 2010 State of the State address in which the governor outlined his legislative agenda for the session. One such issue he discussed was a proposal to offer an amendment to the state Constitution that would give lawmakers the flexibility to lower taxes on commercial and industrial property. Constitutional amendments must pass the Legislature by a two-thirds vote in both Chambers and then must be put on a ballot and approved by a statewide vote.
The current constitutionally mandated tax on business equipment, according to many supporters of this idea, penalizes businesses for trying to invest in new equipment. They say that a businesss taxes increase when they purchase new machinery to replace old machinery because of the value of the new equipment.
Our hope is that addressing this issue we might be able to attract industry into locating and further developing in the state. In recent years, for example, the Legislature has reduced property taxes on airplanes and computer server farms in hopes of attracting new businesses. I support this idea and I believe this is a good step in the right direction toward building a more attractive business climate.
Another topic which was discussed during the State of the State address was an initiative to help children thrive by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. As mentioned, with the help of the Save the Children campaign, a group working in more than 150 communities across the country, we hope to help lessen the impact of poverty on children.
The state is looking at helping our most needy kids acquire the skills they need to succeed and build a lifelong love of learning. Toward that end, the governor pledged to direct $1 million to the efforts of that group in our rural counties. It will provide another tool to give our children the chance they deserve.
As President Kennedy once so eloquently and famously stated, Children are the worlds most valuable resource and its best hope for the future. I wholeheartedly agree and will always stand ready to fight for the best for our youth.
Again, I am honored to be back in the House of Delegates, serving as your representative on the issues which are affecting our region and the state during these tough economic times. I look forward to attacking the challenges facing the state head on with enthusiasm and with your continued support. Also, if you would like to serve as a page from the House of Delegates during session please call my office and ask for Debbie Jones. I encourage anyone interested in the legislative process to come to Charleston and watch the session.
If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues or on any other pieces of legislation when they come before the Legislature, feel free to contact me here at my Charleston office. To write me, my address is Delegate Harry Keith White, Building 1, Room 460M, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. To call me please call (304) 340-3230 or call Toll free at 1-877-565-3447 and ask to be transferred. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process.