CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Advocates for programs designed to support West Virginia’s kids and families are calling on Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to let lawmakers revisit more than $1 million in budget cuts to those programs as part of a May Special Session.

During a Wednesday conference call, representatives of the affected groups repeatedly said such restorations for in-home family education, family resource networks, child advocacy centers, domestic violence programs and services, child abuse prevention and other social programs were “the right thing to do.”

“It’s a small enough amount of money that there are loads of options in terms of where it (the restoration money) could come from,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition.

“We’re doing the best we can to make a case that is both moral and financial about why these programs are important.”

In recent years, Delegate Nancy Guthrie (D-Kanawha, 36) said many of the programs have already absorbed cuts or have not had any funding increases at times when the costs of services have risen and more families are seeking assistance.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me, economically, to diminish their ability to grow their programs, especially when their programs are of such vital need in such challenging times,” Guthrie said.

“If I thought the economics that were being proposed through these cuts made any sense, then I would be quiet about it, but I believe that we’re at a point where we may end up costing the state more money, over the long run, by making these cuts than if we restored these cuts.”

A report from the statewide group, called “Our Children, Our Future,” released Wednesday showed the programs, together, leverage more than $14 million in federal and private funds.  As a specific example, the report said, for every $1 invested in in-home family education programs, the report said the return to the community is an estimated $5.70.

“It’s critically important to remember that these cuts are not just figures on a spreadsheet.  These cuts are real.  They will hurt families and kill jobs,” said Jim McKay, state coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia.

Members of the Senate and House restored the more than $1 million in cuts earlier this year, but Gov. Tomblin used his line item veto power to remove those restorations before signing the state budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Tomblin is expected to call a Special Session for state lawmakers during interim meetings in May.  At this point, what will be addressed during that Special Session has not been finalized.

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  • John

    I wonder why, if the state is so low on money, why did I read in Metro News a couple of days ago, that the powers to be had added another $1.1 million dollars to tourism? It seems to me that the Governor has got his priorities mixed up, since the senior citizen services was cut $1.3 million or 7.5%, also. The article stated that this increase was due to the water crisis in Charleston and it was believed that this would keep tourists from coming to W.Va...How many come to W.Va. to drink the water? Very few, I would imagine. Pure politics at its worst....

  • Pickle Barrel

    Note to Skinner, Guthrie and McKay: The state is out of money. It had to raid $120 million from the Rainy Day Fund just to balance the budget.

  • Hillbilly

    Were any of these programs officially funded in the first place? Or just riding on state general revenue? Or from federal grant money that ran out?

  • Independent View

    Some of these programs are probably worthwhile investments. On the other hand many are mere duplications. An example is the Family Resources Network. This program is merely a referal service and it somehow requires a highly paid director and several support staff to make referals about support programs whose information has and is readily available to the public with little effort.
    An old saying applies here: "the only thing guaranteed eternal life is a federally funded program."

    • ViennaGuy


    • susanf1218

      Excellent point and so true about the eternal life of federally funded programs! Some of the social welfare programs have been around for 40-50 years and, as a recent article about McDowell county pointed out, there has been no improvement in poverty rates or quality of life for the citizens of that area - just a cycle of dependency and abuse of the "system". It is time to take a cold, hard, analytical look at all these programs and make some much needed reforms and cuts. Fix what needs to be fixed, salvage those which are actually doing some good, and ditch the rest!

  • Mountaineers4Life

    Stephen Skinner is a Delegate, Stephen Smith is the Exec Dir of the WV Healthy Kids and Family Coalition

    • Shauna Johnson

      That was my mistake. I apologize and have made the correction.

  • DWL

    Their are still families in WV? From all outward appearances, I thought they just "shacked up" anymore. Plus you have the earthworm society that can't biologically reproduce without a turkey baster, yet wanna be just like everyone else. Abnormal wants normalcy.

  • ViennaGuy

    It doesn't matter what program is cut, someone will cry about it.

    The fact remains that we can't fund everything to the level everyone would like. OK, fine, restore the money to these programs. Where will the restored money come from? I can tell you where - it will come out of another program. What will the advocates for the newly-cut program do? Cry that their program provides needed-this-or-that and that a cut will be devastating ... hmmm, wait a minute, we've just completed a circle.

    Are some of these programs good? I'm sure that some of them are, but again, it's not possible to fund everything to the level everyone wants. There's only so much money to go around. These advocates need to remember that some funding is better than no funding. Take what you've got and make the most of it.

    As to Delegate Guthrie's comment about rising costs, has she - or anyone at the agency in question - tried to find new and innovative ways to provide the services in question at a lower cost? I don't know if they have or not. I do know that when it comes to innovation, government agencies tend to get stuck in a rut because "we've always done it this way." If they are unable to innovate in part because of restrictions on federal funds, then perhaps they need to deep-six the federal money and do it on state money.