- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s House Republicans say they’re not onboard with Senate efforts to advance bills backed by Gov. Jim Justice to resolve the state budget impasse.

House Speaker Tim Armstead, surrounded by 40 members of his GOP Caucus, cited concerns with raising the sales tax on businesses operating in counties bordering other states and raising the corporate income tax, which would offset income tax cuts.

Justice later tweeted that House Republican leaders just rejected tax cuts for working West Virginians and the state’s residents should ask them why. “Speaker Armstead just played politics and blocked bipartisan tax cuts for WV families,” he wrote.

Armstead said there’s interest in his GOP Caucus in long-term tax reform that may include an income-tax reduction, but he doesn’t feel the current bill is a fair trade-off. “To raise sales tax, all the other taxes that are put forward in this legislation, would be too hard a burden on the working people of West Virginia,” he said.

The Legislature is in a special session called by Justice to consider four bills aimed at resolving the state budget impasse. Armstead said it’s a waste of taxpayer money at this point and called for talks among the House and Senate leaders and governor. He said it’s been clear this isn’t a plan his caucus supports.

The Senate recessed until Friday after advancing bills for highway reconstruction, including an increase in the gasoline tax, and to raise public school teachers’ pay.

The Senate planned to reconvene Friday morning to further consider those and the tax bill that was printed later.

“We’re trying as diligently as we can to deliver this tax cut for the people of West Virginia and a balanced budget that lives within our means,” Senate President Mitch Carmichael said. The budget would barely increase spending. The tax bill will pass the Senate unless it contains surprises, he said.

The House also will reconvene Friday with the other bills referred to committees.

The Democratic governor last month vetoed the $4.1 billion general revenue spending plan approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, saying it cut too much state funding from higher education and from health care for poor West Virginians.

The state’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

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