West Virginia's GOP governor dreams big with tax cut proposal: 'You know -- the next Disney, the next Dollywood, whatever'
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (screengrab)

West Virginia's Republican governor Jim Justice has an ambitious plan to attract business and keep residents from fleeing.

The GOP governor unveiled a plan to cut personal income taxes by 60 percent on wages and salaries, while raising the consumer sales tax from 6 percent to 7.9 percent, which would be the highest base rate in the nation, in hopes of boosting his struggling state's economy, reported NPR.

"I really, really believe that there is a real chance of landing real entertainment — landing, you know, the next Disney, the next Dollywood, whatever," he said at a recent event touting the plan.

Justice argues that Florida, Tennessee and Texas grew their population in part by lowering taxes, including personal income taxes, but critics say his consumer tax hike could hurt businesses more than help the economy.

"If we adopt a sales tax rate that would make our state sales tax so much higher than surrounding states, we're afraid that people will find the incentive to run next door to do their shopping," said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

Others remain doubtful that West Virginia could attract enough new residents to make Justice's plan work.

"West Virginia can accomplish some of that as well, but you don't want to be banking on hundreds of thousands of people moving into the state," said Jared Walczak, vice president of state projects at the non-profit Tax Foundation.