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Warner put finances ahead of education

June 13, 2004|by Tom Lange

In a recent newspaper article, Kris Warner, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party, tried to explain how he and Monty Warner, Republican candidate for governor, and his other brothers, paid only $5.57 in taxes on a building that was actually appraised at more than $1 million by the tax department.

The only explanation that Warner gives is that the old Broaddus Hospital in Barbour County was considered "virtually worthless" when he and his brothers bought it. The problem with this explanation is that property taxes should be paid on what the property is currently worth, not on the original purchase price.

Had the Warners paid their fair share of taxes just like you and I do, they should have paid almost $30,000 in taxes during 2002 and 2003. Almost $24,000 would have gone to the school children of Barbour County during this two-year period. Instead, they paid less than $12.

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This $24,000 would not be a lot for the Warner brothers. After all, they bought the Broaddus property for $1 and are now trying to sell it for just under $800,000. However, for Barbour County, one of the poorest counties in the state, it would have helped their schools. For $24,000 Barbour County could purchase new science books for every seventh and eighth grade student in the county, or replace English books in the third and fourth grades.

This is not the first time that Kris Warner has put personal financial gain ahead of the education of our students. He led the effort to reduce the levy rate for Monongalia County schools. Today, the citizens of McDowell, Mingo, Doddridge and 29 other counties make a greater effort to support public education than do the citizens of Monongalia County, home of the state's premier university. Warner was able to reduce his taxes, but it came at the expense of our students.

I'm sure this fall we will hear a lot about how Monty Warner wants to improve public education as our next governor. His action to deny Barbour County children of almost $24,000 will make these words ring hollow.

Monty and Kris Warner need to promote fairness in our tax system, not avoid paying their fair share of taxes. They should be promoting education as the foundation of economic development, not shortchanging our children. And we need to make a very careful decision on Nov. 2 about who has the moral integrity to lead this state in the future.




Tom Lange is president of the West Virginia Education Association.

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