CLARKSBURG, W.Va. –Ben Queen, a three-term House of Delegates member, is currently running unopposed for a state Senate seat.
The Senate District covers parts of Harrison, Lewis, Gilmer, Braxton, and Clay counties.
The seat is currently held by Democrat Mike Romano who has announced that he will not seek re-election but will run for the Harrison County Commission.
Queen, R-Harrison, said that in the absence of a challenger in the fall, he was spending time understanding the Senate better.
“I’ve been really trying for the last six months to get to know the new senators and the Republican caucus there,” Queen said. “I spent several long days with the President of the Senate – just understand what the direction of the Senate is.”
Queen said the next legislature would work with a healthy state budget. It could end the fiscal year on June 30 with a revenue collection surplus of more than $1 million.
“I believe this state is moving in the right direction because we’ve been on fixed budgets for the last four or five years,” Queen said. “The first year we had a $500 million hole and we didn’t increase our state budget nearly to the percentage other states are doing.”
Queen, it’s time to come up with a plan to get some of that money back to taxpayers.
“It’s a rewarding factor, but now we have over a billion dollars of bad days in the bank and we need to come up with a plan to start giving that money back.”
A question on the November ballot, the Property Tax Modernization Amendment, if approved by voters, could exempt personal property used in business and personal motor vehicles from tax. In 2018, reports indicate that the tax generated total revenues of $523.9 million – more than 65% went to fund public schools and about 27% was allocated to county governments.
“I think there has to be a very unique equation on how to make counties whole and reward counties that continue to grow,” Queen said. “I think that’s a huge problem and I think it’s got to be a creative formula because you don’t want to blow up county budgets.”
Queen may still have some opposition in the fall election, smaller political parties such as the Mountain, Green and Libertarian parties have until August 1 to file nomination papers with the Secretary of State.