Joe Manchin Responds to West Virginia Governor, Criticizes Major Tax Cut

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has criticized West Virginia Governor Jim Justice's plan to introduce major tax cuts, after the Republican took aim at Manchin over the latest COVID-19 stimulus package.

Justice complained Monday about a clause in the American Rescue Plan that prevents states from using relief funds to offset revenue losses from tax cuts.

The governor wants to eliminate personal income taxes in the state, phasing them out over the next few years, beginning with a 60 percent cut in January 2022. The lost income tax revenue would be recouped through increases in other taxes but would still leave the state with a $90 million shortfall, according to The Intelligencer.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Manchin praised the funds for state and local governments included in the bill. His state is set to receive $1.25 billion

"This is something that's vitally needed throughout every little community and every larger city in West Virginia," he said.

"It's the first time that I know of in history that the federal government has sent money directly to a community or to a town, and said, 'You can use this for your most desperate projects you have."

Manchin also responded to Justice's comments about the stimulus package and the conditions imposed on spending the money. The senator said those restrictions had been in the previous COVID-19 relief bills.

"It's sad," Manchin said. "That language you're talking about has always been in all of them. You can never backfill any holes."

The Democrat has been a critic of Justice's push to reform West Virginia's taxation system and repeated his concerns on Tuesday.

"I think it's very ill-advised, especially in a pandemic. A tax overhaul is difficult in the best of times," Manchin said. "I would just advise whatever you're going to do, postpone it for a while until you can see when the pandemic's over, then make some decisions."

"What was written into the law was written in there primarily by Joe Manchin," Justice said on Monday. "Joe Manchin is supposed to be your representative, West Virginia. And you know what Joe Manchin is doing? He's still trying to hit at me. That's all there really is to it."

There is no indication what role, if any, Manchin played in writing the provision Justice criticized.

"When it really boils right down to it that's all Joe Manchin is doing. He doesn't care about you. He doesn't care about the people of this state. Literally, Joe Manchin is selling his influence and making money," the governor said.

Justice offered no evidence to support the claim that Manchin was selling influence. The American Rescue Plan is expected to win final approval in the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning.

Manchin Has Clashed with West Virginia's Governor
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) questions nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Manchin has criticized a proposed tax overhaul in West Virginia. Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images