In essence, Kessler, who has long supported a future fund, is betting that oil and gas tax revenues will continue to exceed expectations. If they do not, nothing would be lost, but the future fund would not collect any money.
"I'm just confident their projections are low," Kessler said. "If I'm wrong, no harm no foul, but what do we have to lose, other than being 49th or 50th?"
While coal severance-tax collection continues to decline, through the first six months of the current fiscal year, natural gas tax revenue is up nearly 130 percent over last year, according to the Department of Revenue.
Kessler said that, next week, he will introduce a constitutional amendment that would give the public final approval on how, specifically, any future fund money would be spent.
As the bill was introduced Friday, Kessler gave every senator a pamphlet, of more than 100 pages, touting the future fund.
"If the experience of the last 100 years has taught us anything, it is that natural resource extraction and shared prosperity don't necessarily go hand in hand," the pamphlet states. "Some of the areas from which the greatest amount of wealth has been extracted are among the poorest in the nation . . . . A future fund is West Virginia's best and only chance to transform the extraction of non-renewable resources into a permanent source of wealth for our state."
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.