Governor Justice blasts U.S. reps Miller and Mooney over their … – West Virginia MetroNews

Gov. Jim Justice knocked around two members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation after their endorsement of Amendment Two.
The amendment would change the constitution to allow state lawmakers to exempt personal property taxes on vehicles and on equipment, machinery and inventory for businesses. The governor has been traveling around the state, telling citizens to vote against it because of his concerns over fiscal responsibility.
Congresswoman Carol Miller and Congressman Alex Mooney issued a statement of support for the amendment this week. “Passing Amendment Two will help create jobs, keep our neighbors employed and bring people to the Mountain State,” the two Republicans stated.
West Virginia MetroNews asked the governor about that statement during a Wednesday briefing, mostly focusing on whether federal representatives carry any weight on a state constitutional question.
The governor took the question farther.
Justice, also a Republican, questioned whether the automotive dealerships run by Miller’s family would benefit from a break on equipment and inventory.
“Let’s just be real honest,” the governor said, tugging at his jacket and then folding his arms on his desk. “I think Congresswoman Miller may have a real, live conflict.
“Just ask yourself — the automobile dealers, you know, does Congresswoman Miller have a conflict? Are they going to get real, live money? They sure are.”
Justice then criticized Mooney’s reputation as a former Maryland official who moved to West Virginia shortly before running for Congress in 2014.
“From the standpoint of Congressman Mooney, I honestly don’t know and I’m not throwing any rocks at Congressman Mooney, but I’ve been here for six years, but I’ve seen Congressman Mooney one time, one time in six years. Really and truly, does Congressman Mooney even know West Virginia exists?”

On Miller, Justice was referring to her family’s Dutch Miller Auto Group dealerships founded by her father-in-law, H.D. “Dutch” Miller. The company has seven car dealerships in Huntington, Barboursville and Charleston in West Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kanawha County released a list of the top 50 beneficiaries of breaks from Amendment Two, showing Dutch Miller of Charleston LLC among the companies. That showed an annual assessment for Dutch Miller of $4.3 million and resulting taxes of $140,359.
Carol Miller’s son, Chris Miller, has been the face of the car dealerships for years and has preliminarily declared his own candidacy for governor in 2024. Chris Miller, also a Republican, has $966,408 on hand for a potential run already, according to his filing with the Secretary of State.
Miller and Mooney, in their joint statement in support of Amendment Two, said businesses in West Virginia are at a competitive disadvantage because of the “antiquated tax system of the state.” They pointed to population trends that led to the loss of a congressional seat, resulting in Mooney’s defeat of fellow incumbent Republican David McKinley last spring.
“This is a clear sign that we should be doing everything possible to encourage new economic growth and business expansion in West Virginia,” Miller and Mooney stated.
I support Amendment 2. My statement with @CarolMillerWV
— Alex Mooney (@MooneyforWV) October 18, 2022

Mooney, speaking today on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” said small businesses would benefit from a tax break. “I generally like tax cuts, to begin with,” Mooney said.
“We all want the big ones that can write off a lot of their taxes and invoices anyway, but small businesses are the backbone and we need to be able to recruit these. From what I understand, small and medium-sized businesses cite this inventory tax and other small business taxes as an obstacle to coming to West Virginia, so I think it would be helpful if the Legislature had the authority to look at that.”
.@RepAlexMooney, West Virginia 2nd District Congressman, and Carol Miller, West Virginia 3rd District Congresswoman, announced their support for Amendment Two. Why does Mooney support the amendment? He joins @HoppyKercheval.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) October 19, 2022

Amendment Two recognizes that, for decades, property taxes have been defined by the state Constitution. Property taxes are a main piece of how local governments pay for services like school systems, ambulance services, libraries and more.
This is what it says: “To amend the State Constitution by providing the Legislature with authority to exempt tangible machinery and equipment personal property directly used in business activity and tangible inventory personal property directly used in business activity and personal property tax on motor vehicles from ad valorem property taxation by general law.”
Now, during the coming General Election, citizens will have a say in whether that’s wise.
Justice has repeatedly expressed concern that local governments will lose control of their own finances through the changes Amendment Two could bring. Simultaneously, the governor has touted his own proposal to reduce personal income taxes. He says West Virginia could not afford to do both, particularly if an economic calamity hits.
In his response to Mooney and Miller, the governor characterized local authority as a conservative value.
“If we’re truly Republicans — and we’re really fair — we’re giving up local control, county local control, we’re giving it up so Charleston can control all that’s going on in those counties. You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s not a Republican way. That is nowhere close to a Republican way,” Justice said.
Moreover, Justice asked, “How can congressmen possibly come up with something that is going to drive more growth here than personal income tax? If they’re knowledgeable about what’s going on, I mean for crying out loud, everybody in their right mind knows that personal income tax reductions — or the elimination of it — will drive more and more growth to West Virginia, and that’s to reward our people.”

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