The finance chairmen in both houses of West Virginia’s Legislature claim raising the severance tax on natural gas is the wrong way to increase funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

Increasing the severance tax has become a popular idea among teachers and public employees who want assurance the state will stabilize health insurance costs.

West Virginia taxes natural gas at a 5 percent rate. Most proposals from the public encourage increasing that tax by up to 2.5 percent.

Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow made a presentation to the Task Force, focusing on the role severance tax plays in West Virginia’s budget. He noted the significant fluctuations that energy markets can make.