The cold-eyed accountants for the General Assembly’s auditing arm made headlines recently when they ran the numbers on the state’s coal tax credit and concluded that it actually costs the state more jobs than it saves.
This is good news for coal-hating Democrats who have tried for years now to get rid of the program and bad news for Republicans who represent the counties that produce coal.
At least that’s the conventional reading of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s report. Today we propose a more unconventional reading under which coal country Republicans should embrace that finding and use it to their region’s advantage.
Before we get to that, let’s review some fascinating big-picture facts that the auditors assembled. First, Virginia coal production peaked in 1990 and has declined ever since. It’s now about one-third of what it was then. That means it hasn’t mattered which party controls either