Libertarian candidate wants state income tax gone
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Libertarian Party's candidate for West Virginia governor believes the state should do away with its personal income tax.
"The tax laws in our nation have become convoluted and rife with exemptions," said David Moran, a Preston County farmer and adjunct West Virginia University professor.
"I advocate the elimination of the personal income tax in West Virginia ... The personal income tax is regressive, punishing the people who work the hardest. I advocate the complete elimination of the personal income tax."
West Virginians pay more than $1.7 billion in personal income tax each year, according to the state's latest report. The money accounts for more than 41 percent of the state's general revenue budget, which funds almost every government program in the state, from schools and colleges to highways to the State Police.
"We have gone through the entire budget to identify areas we could cut," Moran said.
"We spend an incredible amount of money incarcerating prisoners, especially nonviolent prisoners jailed for things like smoking marijuana or traffic violations. It would be better to have them out on work release.
"That is just one example of something that would save us hundreds of millions of dollars."
Moran also urges the elimination of some state regulatory groups.
"Commissions like the [Alcohol Beverage Control Administration] are not necessary. They are holdovers from the 1930s. DMV [the Division of Motor Vehicles] inspection services could also be streamlined."
Education is another major area for savings, Moran said.
"The state is basically running an education program for communities. If the education system was decentralized, there would be incredible savings for the state. Community schools are much cheaper to operate."
"I would like to see the state school board abolished and replaced with a state Education Improvement Panel," he said. Such a panel would be more of an advisory board, he said, and would not have authority over local school boards.
"Local control of schools is one of the most important things we could do to lift this state up."
Moran also backs a voucher system that would "allow parents and students to decide where they want to go to school -- to a charter school, private school or public school."
"Today, our form of government has evolved into one where we effectively have too much legislative control over citizens," Moran said during a telephone interview last week.
"The fundamental belief of libertarians is that we should all achieve our individual capabilities under the principles of liberty. We should step aside, whenever possible, from being instructed by others," Moran said.
"All people in a democratic republic have the right to make decisions for themselves. As long as they are not detrimental to anyone else, those decisions should be their own."
Moran opposes the Affordable Health Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in March 2010.
"Should citizens be forced to have health insurance? Or should that be an individual decision?" Moran asked. "That is one small example of the sorts of things government has evolved into over the past century."
Moran believes West Virginia should create "its own brand of health-care programs centered around community health clinics that are already concerned about their patients' nutrition, exercise and medications."
Moran also said he has strong views on energy extraction.
"We are being treated like a Third World country here, like a colony. Companies extract energy resources from West Virginia, then go away and leave us in tatters.
"I know what it means to be a capitalist and make decisions about profits and losses. Nothing happens here [with energy companies] that is of benefit to us."
He said future state tax breaks for companies should focus on investors who are willing to build long-term manufacturing and industrial facilities in the state.
He vigorously criticizes the federal "Real ID" program. "This creates problems for people when they try to get their driver's licenses renewed. The governor should have refused to accept that federal program at the state line."
The program was created by the federal government in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, after several of the terrorists used fake driver's licenses to board airplanes. West Virginia is one of a handful of states to be in compliance with the federal program.
Moran said West Virginia's "leadership has been long shared, back and forth, between Democrats and Republicans. They are identical.
"The two parties are so similar it wouldn't make any difference which one you elect," he said. "I am offering an alternative based on specific programs, not just on mottos.
"People are looking for a courageous governor, not a rubber-stamp governor," Moran said.
Moran, who holds a Ph.D. in hydrodynamics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. He has also taught at the University of Iowa, George Washington University and Wheeling Jesuit University.
Moran and his wife, Lori Wall, have a son serving as a U.S. Navy pilot and a daughter who is an author and a former Central Intelligence Agency agent, he said.
Educated as an engineer, Moran spent his earlier career in the U.S. Navy as an engineer focused on oceanography and designing ships for special operations.
Today, Moran and his wife care for 100 alpacas and 40 sheep on their 120-acre Crimson Shamrock Farm on a mountaintop in the town of Eglon. He said he and his wife raise the animals for their fur, which they use in the international fiber market.
"It makes for an exciting life," Moran said. "I still do some teaching at West Virginia University in the Animal Sciences Department. It is not my original discipline, but I have spent a good bit of time studying animal science."
Moran faces incumbent Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat; Republican Bill Maloney and Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson in the governor's race. Election Day is Nov. 6; early voting begins Oct. 24.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.