Group asks W.Va. for funding restoration
HUNTINGTON — A nonprofit coalition is urging W.Va. Gov. Earl Ray Tombin to restore $1 million in state funding for early childhood and family resource programs.
The Our Children, Our Future campaign to end child poverty discussed the effects of the loss of funding during a conference call Wednesday.
“These cuts aren’t just figures on spreadsheets. They will hurt families,” said Jim McKay, state coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia. “These children suffering are the ones shouldering the burdens of balancing the budget.”
The cuts included $388,000 for domestic violence-related programs; $250,000 for in-home family education; $200,000 for child advocacy centers, $150,000 for family resource centers and networks; and $80,000 for child abuse prevention.
Tomblin made the cuts in a line-item veto last month. They were among about $67 million in vetoes in 42 spending areas to limit how much the state dips into its savings.
Hallie Mason, Tomblin’s director of public policy, said the cuts are part of a larger effort to balance the budget without having to resort to raising taxes.
“The governor believes education is the key to ending childhood poverty,” Mason said. “He has created a task force on early childhood development with the goal to provide a road map to the future.”
But a future benefiting the next generation needs to be an efficient one, Mason said. She said before dedicating more state money to funding these programs, the governor wants to ensure they are being run efficiently to make the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Mason said the Department of Health and Human Resources is reviewing services offered by various nonprofits to evaluate their efficiency. She said the task force is expected to release its report in the fall.
Tomblin is set to meet with Our Children, Our Future representatives Friday to discuss the cuts and upcoming legislative special session.