CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of Education and the Arts Gayle Manchin told members of the state Senate Finance Committee Thursday it would actually cost the state money eliminate her office and send the agencies in her department to other departments.
“Because we are sharing personnel and space and program and partnerships–if that is dismembered then the cost of each agency would go up,” Manchin said during her budget presentation.
This is at least the second consecutive session lawmakers have discussed eliminating the department which includes the Division of Culture and History, the Educational Broadcasting Authority and the Library Commission. Those looking at eliminating Manchin’s office have said those agencies could be placed under the Department of Education.
“We provide educational experiences from birth unto death we are not about K-12,” Manchin, appointed by Gov. Jim Justice, said. “I would ask that this committee to look at the Office of Education and the Arts as a model of how cabinets can work together with their agencies to be a part of the fiscal solution in our state.”
Division of Culture and History Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith said budget cuts are going to impact fairs and festivals and could reduce the annual Vandalia Gathering.
“With the proposed cuts all of the support we provide for the arts and historic preservation projects will be gone,” Reid-Smith said.
West Virginia Public Broadcasting would also lose its state funding under Justice’s proposed budget. Senate Finance Committee Chair Mike Hall (R-Putnam) asked WVPB Director Scott Finn during Thursday’s meeting if there’s a exit plan on the table.
“There are certain things that if we had time we could transition into,” Finn said. “We believe we could operate on less money–we are going to have to–but we’d like to have a conversation about what services the state could continue to support and what services we could raise (money for).”
Finn wants a one-year study period that could result in a two-year period where staff would be reset.