In our just completed legislative session, Bob Murray, owner of Murray Energy – a major coal producer in our state, cashed in on his generous campaign contributions with a $60 million tax break on West Virginia’s coal severance taxes. Not a bad return on a less than 2-million-dollar investment in our corrupt political system!
Passed on the final day of the session, this giveaway to coal was sold as a way to keep mining jobs. However, both our state’s financial planners and WVU experts told lawmakers that cutting coal taxes would do little or nothing to stem the decline of coal production since natural gas was now a much cheaper energy source and coal from other states is much less expensive.
This $60 million in revenue could have lots of other, more beneficial uses such as: funding a WV Black Lung benefit program; shoring up retired miners pensions; economic development in coal communities; a much needed veterans home in southern WV; or just fixing up our roads and bridges torn up by heavy trucks!
Murray even made a trip to Charleston to meet with our governor, who also owns coal companies, to make sure the fix was in. This ‘pay to play’ politics has got to stop!
From top to bottom, Washington DC to Charleston, we must make sure that, in 2020, we replace these ‘yes men’ who bend over to please campaign donors, with policymakers who are loyal to ‘we the people’!