Congressman David McKinley, 1st District, West Virginia met with the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board and other tourism industry individuals recently at Tip Top Coffee Shop in Thomas.
McKinley said his goal in coming to the area for several different meetings was to: “Bring Washington to you instead of you coming to Washington. Be on the road to listen to you and bring it (your concerns and ideas) back to Washington.”
Around a dozen people were in attendance at the round table discussion.
Bill Smith, Executive Director of the T.C.C.V.B., brought up a key issue of the completion of Corridor H.
“The Highway Trust, the Transportation Act needs to contain language to get Corridor H completed.”
McKinley stated that as one of two engineers in congress that he knows our roads need fixed.
“One of the things we’re hung up on is, how do you want to pay for it?” McKinley said.
He noted that big cities want you to raise gas prices yet the burden of that falls on rural America who have to commute to work, and still the bigger cities get the lion’s share of funding. The possibility of it being a toll road was also discussed. The concern with that idea was that once a toll road is created, it always seems to stay a toll road. Discussion was also held that funding for the road is supposed to be an 80-20 split and that West Virginia currently doesn’t have their portion.
McKinley said he had what he thought was an excellent revenue stream. He wanted to tax the export of natural gas until it was pointed out to him by legal counsel that to do so was constitutionally illegal. He cited Article 6 Section 9 Paragraph C.
There were also other issues raised such as payment in lieu of taxes ie.. Department of Interior ( Fish and Wildlife Refuge System) appraise their own lands. It was mentioned that while their holdings grow their contributions (payments) are decreasing.
Rob Gilligan of the State Parks Department told McKinley that he would like to see a direct link or exit from Corridor H right into the State Park.
Although the meeting was predominately a tourism roundtable the group also expressed other concerns to McKinley. Things such as the availability of accessible healthcare in our area, infrastructure especially communications, and the Older Americans Act funding.
McKinley quoted some disturbing survey statistics.
“Sixty percent of Americans think our best days are behind us. Seventy two percent think we’re going down the wrong path. Have we lost our vision of the American dream?”
To reach Congressman McKinley call 202-225-4172 or email: RepMcKinley@mail.hou