CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt released the following statement urging the Republican Legislative majorities to find a compromise and pass comprehensive tax reform immediately. It has been 44 days since Governor Justice called a special session on tax reform:
“One of the core principles of the Republican Party is rightsizing government spending in order to return tax dollars to hard working citizens. With record surpluses, this is the optimal time to refund excess revenue to our citizens by reducing the income tax. As much as I support removing personal property and the business inventory tax, we must find ways to help stimulate our economy and give immediate relief to those experiencing hardships from rising inflation.”
“As we continue to keep budgets flat and cut unnecessary spending, Republican majorities must keep to their principles by to reducing tax burdens, as well as decentralizing the State government. That means returning decision making and flexibility to local county officials who are accountable to their communities. Our goal should always be to remove the heavy hand of government by allowing the free market to reign.”
Including pay increases and additional programs, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) operates on a budget similar to FY 2008. This is despite the WVDA taking over authority for the Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, farmers’ markets, hemp production and consumer protection and all milk products. At the same time, the Department has increased employee compensation to cover the full expense of three across-the-board pay raises.
“Despite numerous unfunded mandates, my administration has kept its spending in check all the while increasing compensation through cost savings, efficiencies and restructuring of salaries. This includes reducing executive level salaries and avoiding top-heavy administrations seen by previous Commissioners. We continue to do more with less and we urge the rest of the State government to follow our lead.”
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.