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State Treasurer Riley Moore’s Jumpstart Savings Act, House Bill 2001, passed the Legislature Thursday and will soon head to Gov. Jim Justice for his signature.

The bill unanimously passed the House of Delegates on Feb. 16. The Senate unanimously passed an amended version of the bill Wednesday, and the House concurred in those changes Thursday morning. House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, is the lead sponsor of the bill.

“West Virginia is one step closer to being the first state in the country to implement this innovative program that will truly help us build up our blue-collar workforce and rebuild our middle class,” Treasurer Moore said. “This is critically important because our citizens have to compete in a global economy, and we can’t let countries like China pass us in workforce development.

“As the first state to adopt the Jumpstart Savings Act, we’re showing that West Virginia is once again leading the way on finding creative ways to improve the lives of our people and rebuild the American workforce,” Treasurer Moore said.

The Jumpstart Savings Act allows individuals who wish to pursue a vocation or trade to make up to $25,000 in annual tax-free contributions to a savings and investment account that can then be used to help cover the business startup costs, equipment, tools, certifications and licenses needed for their occupation.

Family members and the individual’s employer can also make contributions to the account. In addition to the contributions being tax-free, the beneficiary will also be able to withdraw funds from the account tax-free as well.

The plan was inspired by Treasurer Moore’s personal experience working as a welder earlier in life. He worked maintenance on equipment at open-pit mining operations and considered starting up his own independent contracting business but found it to be quite cost-prohibitive.

“I found out very quickly how expensive it can be to start your own business and pay for your own equipment and tools,” Treasurer Moore said. “It didn’t make sense to me that we can have so many options available to help people pay for community college or vocational school, only for them to run into a barrier when they find out they need to pay for their licenses, tools and equipment after graduating. The Jumpstart Savings Act is designed to help remove that barrier and empower our blue-collar workers to enter these trades.”

The Jumpstart Savings Act has been endorsed by several business and trade organizations, including the West Virginia Business & Industry Council, West Virginia Associated Builders and Contractors, and West Virginia Manufacturers Association. It has also drawn praise from leadership of the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

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