CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state legislature restored more than $1 million in funding to children and family programs Wednesday. The measure had bipartisan support in the House of Delegates and state Senate.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin made the cuts with his line-item veto power in the new state budget that begins July 1 but lawmakers heard from supporters of the groups to put the money backin and they did so, taking it from the Licensed Racetrack Regular Purse Fund.
“It restores those cuts and then some,” House Finance Committee Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, told fellow members before the vote. “We’re doing that and adding to it to get back where we were when it was vetoed out.”
Specifically, the legislature voted to fund $357,900 to Grants for Licensed Domestic Violence Programs, $150,464 to Family Resource Networks, $30,000 to Domestic Violence Legal Services Fund, $250,000 to In-Home Family Education, $80,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund and $200,000 to Child Advocacy Centers.
Del. J.B. McCuskey, R-Kanawha, said the legislature was prioritizing the most vulnerable in the society.
“I believe the government’s role, if nothing else, is to make sure we’re protecting the people who can’t protect themselves.
Gov. Tomblin cited duplication of services and a tight budget year when he orginally vetoed the funding. Wednesday he thanked the legislature for its work in the special session.
“The supplemental appropriations legislators approved today are from excess lottery funds, not general revenue, and I am pleased that they did not rely on the Rainy Day Fund. This allows the state to continue on a fiscally responsible path while still making investments in our communities,” Tomblin said.
A few hundred supporters of the programs rallied at the state capitol Tuesday. They called on Tomblin to restore the funding and lobbied lawmakers. Del. David Walker, D-Clay, said Wednesday that made a difference.
“They walked the halls and came and visited all of our rooms and drove this point home,” he said.
Supporters said the prevention programs would save the state money down the road. Del. Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, said the state could pay now or later.
“Without the support, the counseling, the education that these programs provide, they are going to end up with legal services, in our jail systems. So we are going to be paying triple, maybe, who knows how many millions,” Phillips said.
Lawmakers passed the governor’s six-bill agenda including a fix to the new minimum wage law restoring the federal exemptions when it comes to 40-hour work weeks and overtime.