CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia should tap growing tax revenues from natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale to pay for roads, bridges, schools and water and sewer plants, candidates for the House of Delegates 32nd and 36th districts said Tuesday.
Delegate Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, said the state should set up a "future fund" to pay for schools and infrastructure projects.
"We need new schools," said Guthrie, a Kanawha City resident who's running in the 36th District. "We need more bridges. We need more roads."
Robin Holstein, a Republican running for one of three seats in the 36th, said such improvements would spur economic development in West Virginia.
"We need to bring back businesses and build a strong foundation and tax base for the state," said Holstein, who lives in Diamond.
Stevie Thaxton, another GOP candidate in the same race, said the state must "drastically" reduce personal property taxes.
"The tax burden really needs to be lightened up," said Thaxton, who lives in Alum Creek. "People are just struggling to make ends meet, and there's no help coming down the line."
Steve Sweeney, a South Charleston Republican in the 36th District race, said 47 percent of the average West Virginian's total income goes toward taxes and fees. He sees economic development as a way to decrease the tax burden on individuals.
"We need to find a way to attract every bit of revenue we can," he said. "The more you can bring into the state, the more revenues."
Delegate Mark Hunt, a 12-year incumbent running in the 36th, said state lawmakers have made sound financial decisions that have put West Virginia in a position to prosper.
Hunt predicted an increase in natural gas industry revenue. He also expects the state's coal industry to rebound, despite recent reports to the contrary, as natural gas prices decrease.
"I see West Virginia as being in the catbird seat," said Hunt, who lives on Charleston's West Side.
Hunt supports increased funding for water and sewer plants as a way to increase economic development and create jobs.
"If we continue to build it, they will come," he said.