CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Legislature left funding for the state Courtesy Patrol out of the 2014-2015 budget. The governor signed the budget bill into law Thursday.
Courtesy Patrol Director Jennifer Douglass said she had no idea lawmakers had failed to set aside funding for the coming year. She found out late Thursday afternoon.
“If it means a special session [of the legislature] to get this resolved. I have the utmost respect and confidence that our legislators will do the right thing,” she said.
The Tomblin administration has talked about calling a special legislative session in May or June to discuss budget issues. The Courtesy Patrol is funded through June 30.
Douglass said she can’t image West Virginia’s interstate system without the men and women of the Courtesy Patrol.
“We’ve been out there for almost 16 years, assisted over 280,000 motorists,” according to Douglass. “There’s a huge value in having the program.
The Courtesy Patrol started out as a 24-hour program but was cut back during the Manchin administration to just 16 hours from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m., in order save money.
The program currently has an annual budget of $4.7 million through the Courtesy Patrol Fund. All that money comes from Lottery funds but has to be appropriated by the state legislature. She said the patrol is too important not to fully fund.
“They have a presence as far as safety on the highways, security, peace of mind just knowing that help is right around the corner, all the employment opportunities it provides for our state, the tourism friendly aspect of it,” stressed Douglass.
The Courtesy Patrol currently employs 80 workers who cover the entire state.