Nearly 300 legislators and business leaders from across the state were on hand this morning as the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce called for legislation to attract and retain young professionals and promote innovation. The measures were previewed at the Chamber’s annual “Issues & Eggs” legislative breakfast at the Charleston Marriott Town Center.
The fast-paced event included a feature address by Senate President Jeffrey Kessler and a lively Q&A moderated by State Journal Managing Editor Beth Gorczyca Ryan.
In his remarks, Kessler forecasted a “steady as she goes” 2012 legislative session, noting the state’s fiscal stability and continued progress in addressing major issues including OPEB and Marcellus Shale drilling.
Chamber Chairman Mike Basile and President Matt Ballard outlined the organization’s two key proposals for building on that momentum.
The first, Brains for Business, is a measure to encourage higher education graduation rates and attract and retain young people in West Virginia. Under the proposal, new graduates of all ages will be will be eligible for a $25,000-per year reduction of their federally adjusted annual income for purposes of calculating individual state income tax. The reduction will only be available for two years following graduation from a qualified institution of higher education.
Another key strategy, The Innovation Free-Trade Zone (Economic Development Act of 2012) outlines policies to encourage investment in businesses that create high-value jobs, diversify the state’s economy and promote sustainable growth.
The act includes two key points: the West Virginia 21st Century Tax Credit Act and the 21st Century Business Technologies Property Valuation Act.
“The Charleston Chamber looks forward to providing real-time updates throughout the session and will call upon our members to lend their voice of support on issues impacting our businesses and communities,” noted Chairman Basile.
“Working together with our state legislators, we can seize opportunities to strengthen our economy and transform our future,” added Ballard.
Thanks to our Issues & Eggs Sponsors
West Virginia American Water*
Just Beneath the Surface Alliance
Spilman Thomas & Battle
*Paid for by the shareholders of West Virginia American Water, not its customers.