On Wednesday, May 21, the West Virginia State Legislature reconvened for a special session in response to line-item vetoes made by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to the passed FY2015 budget that cut over $1 million in state funding to various programs. The funding was spread out over different areas, but the majority of the cuts were in the areas of child services. Funding was originally cut because it drew extra funds from the state’s Rainy Day Fund and Tomblin had stated that he wanted to preserve the state’s bond rating.
The Our Children, Our Future coalition, which is comprised of several anti-poverty, social and religious organizations, had lobbied the governor’s office for weeks in hopes of having the funding reinstated. The organization had claimed that the state would have missed out on $11-14 million in matching federal funds and that 80 people in the state would have lost their jobs if the cuts went into effect on July 1.
Local Child Advocate Roger Lockridge was one of the speakers at a press conference on May 8 at the Capitol and was involved in the lobbying process. When asked for comment regarding the decision Lockridge added, “This is great news as up to 80 jobs across the state were saved yesterday and many programs will be able to keep providing services to families that we know all too well how important they can be.”
The amendment, that restored the funding to these programs by moving money from racing purses, was tacked onto a budget bill that the House of Delegates passed unanimously. Only one vote was lacking for a unanimous vote in the Senate. Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, was the sole vote against the amendment on the grounds that it used racetrack funds.
In total the amendment will reduce the Licensed Racetrack Regular Purse Fund by $1,068,364 and utilize the funds to restore funding as follows:
• Family Resource Networks – $150,464
• Domestic Violence Legal Services Fund – $30,000
• In-Home Family Education – $250,000
• Grants for Licensed Domestic Violence Programs and Statewide Prevention – $357,900
• Children’s Trust Fund Transfer – $80,000
• Child Advocacy Centers – $200,000