THE regulatory state, faced with the fact that it has strangled something — businesses, cities, etc. — finds it almost impossible to release its death grip on the victims' windpipes.
Watching the state try to let its cities live is like observing a neurological disorder in the body politic.
The head sends the message that it's better to loosen the fingers and let the organisms survive. But by the time the message gets to the fingers, life-saving deregulation has become throttling re-regulation.
It's amazing to watch.
West Virginia gives its cities few taxing powers. State officials have compounded that problem by grandly handing out pension benefits and then bucking to elected city officials the responsibility for paying for them without the ability to tax.
It's one of the great political tricks of all time.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, facing millions in
unfunded pension liabilities, also wants to fix the Charleston Civic Center, the key to a vibrant convention business. But he lacks the money for renovations.
A couple of months ago, Jones said he wanted to
impose a half-percent city sales tax while rolling back Charleston's business and occupation tax on retail sales and eliminating its B&O tax on manufacturers.
In the recent session, legislators, in a 16-page bill, amended their "home rule" law to let cities pass as much as a 1 percent sales tax — but only if they roll back or eliminate their business and occupation taxes.