West Virginia’s revenue growth continues

Gov. Jim Justice celebrates record revenue numbers for fiscal year 2018 and for the month of July. (Photo by Steven Allen Adams)

CHARLESTON — State officials were in a celebratory mood Tuesday morning after unveiling the final end-of-year surplus numbers, including positive numbers for the first month of the new fiscal year.

Sitting in front of a banner saying “Way to go West Virginia” and sporting Hawaiian leis, Gov. Jim Justice and officials with the Department of Revenue presented the latest revenue numbers in a press conference Tuesday in the Governor’s Reception Room in Charleston.

“It is a good day,” Justice said. “What we want to do is make enough more to help all.”

After all the numbers came in, revenue officials said West Virginia saw a $36 million surplus for fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30. Officials said it was the first budget surplus in six years without mid-year budget cuts. By law, West Virginia is required to have a balanced budget with no deficits.

Altogether, West Virginia brought in $4.245 billion, breaking a record set in 2015.

Gov. Jim Justice congratulates Mark Muchow, deputy secretary for the state Department of Revenue, for positive revenue numbers for the new fiscal year. (Photo by Steven Allen Adams)

In addition to the end-of-year surplus, the month of July 2018 — the first month of the new fiscal year — ended in the black. West Virginia saw a $32.4 million surplus for July 2018, the largest July revenue surplus since fiscal year 2008.

West Virginia saw growth of 24.1 percent in general revenue funds as a total in July, the largest since fiscal year 2011. Consumer sales tax revenue in July grew by 13.7 percent, the fastest growth since 2012, state officials said.

“In one month, we almost had the same surplus as we had for the whole previous year,” said Dave Hardy, secretary of the Department of Revenue. “The last time we had that much revenue in the month of July was over a decade ago.”

Officials point to the fourth quarter of the 2018 fiscal year, April to June, as an example of West Virginia’s upward revenue climb. During that quarter, personal income tax withholding revenue grew by 9.1 percent. During the entire fiscal year of 2018, that same revenue number grew by 6 percent, the second-best growth since 8 percent in fiscal year 2012.

“Personal income tax is an extremely important point when you’re trying to measure the economic health of a state,” Hardy said. “That means people are working and having their taxes withheld.”

Justice credited the positive growth in tax revenue to actions by the Republican-led West Virginia Legislature and the policies of the Trump administration.

“The Republicans have been here a short time, and they passed legislation that is having an impact in a positive way,” Justice said. “It would be impossible for someone to say that the Republican effort has not been successful. It would be impossible to say that since I walked through this door that things haven’t started to get better. It would be impossible to say that Donald Trump’s impact on this state and nation and tax reform has not had a positive impact on our people.”

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