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W.Va. delegation to study future fund in N.D.

By From staff and wire reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A delegation of West Virginia lawmakers is planning a trip to North Dakota to learn more about its legacy fund, according to a news release.

Senate President Jeff Kessler says the trip is tentatively scheduled for late this summer. Members of the delegation will be named at a later date.

"If we can create the fund and begin investing now, it will send a powerful message to Wall Street that West Virginia, during these tough economic times, is not only balancing its budget but also saving for the future," Kessler said in the news release.

The North Dakota Legacy Fund was created in 2011 and is funded by oil and gas tax revenue. It reached the $1 billion milestone in only 20 months.

Kessler has proposed a similar fund called the West Virginia Future Fund. He says a permanent endowment will create wealth and opportunity that will last long after the natural gas boom is gone.

Kessler has tried to create the fund through legislation several times, with no success. He co-sponsored a bill during the 2013 legislative session: it did not advance from the Senate Finance Committee.

New House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, also championed the trip. In the news release he said a future fund "holds tremendous potential" and he's interested to see what lawmakers will learn on the trip.

The trip stems from legislation that allows the leaders of both the House and Senate to appoint job creation workgroups.

The total cost of the trip won't be known until all the members of the delegation are determined, a Kessler representative said.


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