CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates Finance Committee made a late night move Monday to restore proposed budget cuts to several state programs by taking money from state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Consumer Protection Fund.

The proposal, which totals $12 million, came in the form of an originating bill at the end of a long day for the committee. The bill was not on the meeting’s original agenda.   (see details of bill below)

The fund has a $19 million balance. It finances the Consumer Protection Division, which has an operating budget of $4.1 million. It also pays for consumer restitution. The House bill, plus a bill that passed the Senate Monday taking another $5 million from the fund to plug state budget holes, would reduce the fund to less than $3 million.

“We are decimating the Consumer Protection Fund,” Del. Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, said. “We are doing this at 10 o’clock without the attorney general being invited.”

But Del. Kevin Craig, D-Cabell, countered the fund’s balance is too high.

“There’s no reason to have a balance of 19 million dollars,” Craig said. “We aren’t trying to limit the attorney general, but these are quality programs.”

Several programs to be funded are related to health care including the program for seniors that allows them to remain in their homes. Finance Committee Chair Brett Boggs, D-Braxton, has previously stated funding the program is a top priority.

Del. Bob Ashley, R-Roane, said providing the programs funding for one year wasn’t really dealing with the funding problem. He also questioned the motivation for the bill.

“This is a charade. We are putting out false hope. Let the attorney general do his job,” Ashley said. He later voted in favor of the bill.

Reducing the Consumer Protection Division below its $4.1 million annual operating cost could force program changes.

The House of Delegates passed a bill earlier this session that would take some powers away from the attorney general. The bill has yet to be taken up in the Senate.

Finance Committee Vice Chair Doug Reynolds, D-Cabell, reminded committee members they’ve voted in favor of taking money from other funds in this tight budget year.

The vote in favor of the bill was 14-9 with all Democrats voting for the measure and one Republican, Del. Ashley. All nine votes against it were from Republicans. The bill now goes to the House floor for consideration.

 

BUDGET ANALYST: Will Laird

                         ATTORNEY: Mark McOwen

House Bill Originating

  (Supplemental Appropriation)

General Revenue Funds

 

SPONSORS:

SHORT TITLE:  Expiring funds to the unappropriated surplus balance in the State Fund, General Revenue and making supplementary appropriations to various accounts.

 

DATE: March 3, 2014

 

REFERENCE:  FY 2014 Budget Act

FISCAL NOTE: $12,000,000

 

OTHER COMMITTEE REFERENCE AND/OR ACTION:  None

 

COMMENTS:    


The Purpose of this bill is to:

•                     Expire funds in the amount of $12,000,000 from the Attorney General – Consumer Protection Recovery Fund to the unappropriated surplus balance in the State Fund General Revenue and appropriates the same as follows:

•                     West Virginia Development Office                                                                               

- Regional Contracting Assistance Center                                              $           166,785


 

•                     State Board of Education

- 21st Century Innovation Zones                                                                          400,000


 

•                     Education and the Arts – Office of the Secretary

- Reconnecting McDowell – Save the Children                                                    500,000


 

•                     Education and the Arts – Library Commission

- Grants to Public Libraries                                                                                    860,057


 

•                     DHHR – Division of Health – Central Office

- Safe Drinking Water Program                                                                          2,000,000


 

•                     DHHR – Division of Human Services

- 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                                                                                             80,000


 

•                     MAPS – Division of Justice and Community Services

- Child Advocacy Centers                                                                                       111,908


 

•                     Bureau of Senior Services

- Transfer to Division of Human Services for Health Care

And Title XIX Waiver for Senior Citizens                                                        6,692,866


 

•                     WV Council for Community and Technical College Education

- West Virginia Advance Workforce Development                                             400,000


 

 

GRAND TOTAL                  $ 12,000,000

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • Sarah

    Republicans have got to be the biggest cry babies I've ever witnessed. When there is a budget shortfall in one account and extra money that would fund a state department for 4 YEARS - it makes sense to transfer the money.

    This isn't an emotional debate on who is getting their feelings hurt or if someone is getting "picked" on, or (their NEW favorite) a power grab (how is that even an argument??), this is called balancing a budget.

    GET OVER IT REPUBLICANS -- Democrats balance the budget as best you can and don't let the drama get in the way of your JOB.

    • Aaron

      There is no "as best you can" as the budget is required by law to be balanced.

      They will balance it, but without any courage or integrity. They'll do it by raiding the rainy day fund because no one in our leadership has displayed the courage needed to lead in this session.

      They knew there was going to be a shortfall on day one and instead of addressing it, our leaders have sat around on their hands waiting on the session to end so they can say "Opps, we're short, we need (fill in the blank) from the rainy day fund.

      Meanwhile, our roads are still crumbling, our teachers and public workers are still underpaid and unhappy, and our budget is still short.

      If that's the kind of leadership you're happy with, then you are certainly no FDR/JFK Democrat.

  • Tom Stark

    Marty K. - Perhaps that fund was established by the legislature - by law - as a reserve earmarked for specific purposes of protecting consumers in the state and because there was, at the time, a Democrat holding that office for many years, they never considered the day that their party would not control the fund. Now that Patrick Morrisey is using the fund for its intended purpose, they cannot stand the thought that they cannot control all the money everywhere. They are desperate in their last year of complete control of the legislature to grab at any straw to reduce the power of conservatives to do their jobs. When this death grip on power is finally broken - as it appears that it might be in 2014 - perhaps we will see a brighter future for WV. That, however, is contingent upon Republicans, when they finally gain control of something, that they don't worry as much about getting re-elected as they do about serving the people of the state as they should...by doing what is right for all the people.

  • Tom Stark

    It is truly scary what is happening with the Democrats in our legislature. They appear like frightened rats that just realized that they are on a sinking ship with no way off so they run around trying to enact laws that buy votes while at the same time pulling any teeth out of the good things that the government (when operated ethically, as our Attorney General is trying to do for a change) should be doing. The leadership knows that this is likely the last session they have with a House under Democrat control and have to get much of their agenda passed this year or it is curtains for their 80 year reign of terror over WV. It is fitting to note that in their rush to get this bill before the committee and out to the public that the simple addition of the numbers in the bill come up $20 short of the total appropriation shown in the bill. What possible good that Bob Ashley saw in this bill - particularly after his negative comment - could outweigh the need for a solid NO vote on it escapes me. Perhaps all that money for seniors in his district was too much to ignore. When legislators arrive in Charleston with service to the public on their minds instead of the next election, perhaps we will see some votes based on principles instead of politics. That will be the day WV begins to heal and grow healthy again. Not one day before.

  • Marty K

    It is amazing that in a time with our budget shortfall in the state, the AG is surprised by having his budget cut. No agency should have 4 times what is needed in an account to fund them for the year.

  • Brian K. Griffith, Candidate for House of Delegates, District 34

    At times, it is understandable that funds may need to be moved around to shore up deficits in other areas. However, the atmosphere in Charleston (as viewed by the residents of this state) seems to be turning into a bonafide partisan witch trial against our current Attorney General.

    By stripping our AG of his power to do his job, and the funding to do his job, partisan interests will have basically rendered the office irrelevant. As a voter and as a candidate, I feel that this is more about voiding the power of the office than it is about the money.

    My question is simply this: Why was our Attorney General not present during this non-slated action?

    • Rachel Lincoln

      Nope! Everyone has to cut, no slush funds for Attorney Generals.

  • Teacher

    I just can't cry a river for the AG. Having all of that slush money is wrong.

    Education, higher education, state agencies, etc. have ALL cut their budgets and he is whining about his slush fund?

    No tears pouring from this teacher. Not one drop.

  • JTF

    How much money is in the reserve accounts to operate the House of Delegates, Senate and Joint (House and Senate) accounts?

    Not too long ago there were (in aggregate) tens and tens and tens of millions of $$$ in those 3 accounts.

    These accounts build up because it is rare that the House, Senate and Joint spend all that is allocated to them in an annual budget and whatever is not spent does not return to the state treasury at the end of the year, but instead remains in those accounts and builds up.

    In some recent years, they have (to their credit) dipped into those 3 accounts to help balance the budget or fund other State programs.

    Just curious as to how much is in those 3 accounts right now. Have they aready swept the surpluses in those 3 accounts before going after the AG funding for next year's consumer protection work?

  • WV Senior

    If your budget is 4.1 million and you have 19 million, you have too much money.

    Math is important. Take $15 million and be done with it.

  • L. Moore

    No agency should be over-funded that much. It doesn't make any sense at all.

    We have a budget shortfall so no agency should get that much extra money.

  • stepenwv

    Can't cut the bureaucracy full of duplication, fraud, and waste. Cronyism is alive and well in WV as everyone knows.

  • Martin Stevens

    Why does an agency that needs $4.1 million per year need more than that this year? Why do they think they are more deserving than other programs?

    Senior citizens have been cutting their personal budgets every year and the AG's office wants to keep that much in his budget? That isn't fair to our seniors in this state.

    Senior citizen's vote and we matter.

    • stepenwv

      Do you mean the Attorney General that returned the millions from the previous administration's slush fund to the state as one of his first orders of business? LOL! He proposes audits to uncover and prevent the rest of the departments in WV government from doing what happened in the Agriculture Dept. Can't have that. How would the government function with all lawbreakers removed? There might be no one left in the current administration.

  • Melissa

    I'm not a fan of the AG. He has too many ethical issues so this is probably a good idea.

    • BAC

      Morrissey is the most ethical AG we've had in many decades. The Charleston Gazette is an evil propaganda machine. Where were they during the McGraw years when Darrell was feeding millions in fees to his plaintiff lawyer contributors? Not only silent, but they endorsed him several times.

    • stepenwv

      Law breakers LOVE the constraints being placed on Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. HR 2 makes sure Tim Miley is in control of who gets protection.

      • Melissa

        Patrick Morrisey, is that you?

        • stepenwv

          Tim Miley? You sneak, what are you doing here?

          • Interesting123

            Based on what Melissa? Your own personal conjecture?

          • Melissa

            The AG is more of a whacko than previously thought.

  • Clint

    Poor little Attorney General, how will he fund his attempts to block our clean water this way?

    Don't worry Morrisey, big business will fund what you want anyway.

    • stepenwv

      Except the special interests are funding the Democrats. Their campaign coffers are overflowing.

  • Michael

    The AG is a joke. He could care less about consumer protection. He only cares about big pharma. Fund programs that need the money and don't waste it on the AG running around doing a jobs tour.

    • stepenwv

      LOL! He thinks it is a good idea to audit all government programs as was done to the Dept. of Agriculture. Now the Democrats are in panic mode. After all, how could the government function if the law breakers were all removed? There would be no one left.

      • Barb

        stepen, FYI: Walt Helmick was the person who ask for an audit of Ag.

  • Mark

    Reynolds is not Chair of Finance. Brent Boggs is.