CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Though the legislative session so far has been dominated by education reform (and pepperoni rolls), there's one bill state drivers should watch.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 185) to reform the state's tax credit system for alternative-fuel vehicles.
Under current law, anyone who buys a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle, or one fueled by natural gas or 15-percent ethanol fuel blends, is eligible for a $7,500 personal income tax credit to offset the cost of buying the vehicle.
But Tomblin wants to limit that credit to apply only to natural gas-powered vehicles.
There are a few reasons behind the change.
First, promoting natural gas-powered vehicles over other could further stimulate industry in the Marcellus shale region of the state.
Second, as economist Tom Witt pointed out in a recent Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways meeting, giving people $7,500 to drive more fuel-efficient cars while officials are struggling to offset stagnant fuel tax revenues for the State Road Fund is a conflict of public policy.
Third, the tax credit is apparently quite costly. The state stands to save $10 million by limiting the credit.
Given the state is already $35 million short for its current budget year, that $10 million could help offset some dwindling revenue.
While Tomblin seems to have support for the plan, one aspect of his proposal likely will not survive.