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.