CHARLESTON, W.Va. — House Minority Leader Tim Miley (D – Harrison, 48) is optimistic that Regional Education Service Agencies will survive the most recent call for elimination.
“I’ve been told that the RESA’s statewide cost about $3.5 or $3.7 million dollars to the state, but they in turn leverage about $50 million dollars in grants,” Miley said Monday on “The Gary Bowden Show” on the AJR News Network. “So they more than pay for themselves.”
Senate Bill 181, filed on February 8 by lone sponsor Charles S. Trump IV (R – Morgan, 15), calls for the elimination of all eight RESA’s in West Virginia.
With a $500 million expected budget shortfall next fiscal year, Miley said he understands why RESA’s are an easy target. He also said RESA’s serve a number of purposes, and cutting them should not be done with reckless abandon.
“If you want to talk about getting rid of the RESA’s, you can’t have the discussion without also having the discussion about: A, the value of the services performed and B, the loss of employment that would create,” Miley said.
Miley said RESA 7, located in his home county, employs 74 people full-time and employs more than 300 people part-time. He said that could create a difficult added workload for local school boards.
“There is a belief that that grant money can still be obtained if the responsibilities of the RESA’s are transferred to, say, local Boards of Education, collaborative agreements between multi-county Boards of Education, and the like,” Miley said.
At this point, Miley said he remains confident that RESA’s will survive the 2017 Regular Legislative Session.
“I don’t know that the RESA’s will be eliminated even though that there’s a push to do so,” he said. “We’ll know at the end of the session, but right now there is no bill moving that would eliminate the RESA’s that I could see.”
S.B. 181 was sent to the Senate Education Committee on February 8, but the Committee hasn’t yet heard the bill.