CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The chances are “slim to none” that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will restore $750,000 in funding to 14 domestic violence and early childhood programs. That’s according to state Senate President Jeff Kessler. He was one of many speakers at a rally Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda calling on the governor to rethink his decision.
Back in March, while trying to balance the budget, Tomblin approved cutting the funding. Last month, the governor relented and put $260,000 back into those programs. Marcy Drake, the executive director of Women’s Aid in Crisis out of Elkins, told the crowd at the capitol, a little wasn’t enough.
“The Coalition Against Domestic Violence asks the governor to restore all funding to all programs,” Drake stressed. “Not a few! Every one!”
Dozens of supporters surrounded the speakers, many of them had children with them to bring home the point. Those impacted the most are often mothers and kids.
“The Coalition Against Domestic Violence was cut in the governor’s budget by 14.3 percent,” said Drake. “This amounts to $357,900. These are dollars that were going to be used for advocacy, for safety planning, for saving lives in West Virginia.”
Patricia Bailey is the executive director of the Women’s Resource Center in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas and Summers counties. She stressed the money they lost makes up just a tiny fraction of the state’s multi-billion budget.
“To cut $357,900 out of the budget for those domestic violence programs, that to me sends a very clear message of what’s important in the state.” And Bailey said its not protecting women and children.
The governor office has argued that some of the funding that was stripped away was done so because services were being duplicated. Bailey said that is not the case.
“We are licensed to do what we do. No one else can do what we do. We are the only ones that can do what we do and we save lives,” stressed Bailey.
The governor decided not to to put the issue on this week’s special session agenda which wraps up on Wednesday.