Protect West Virginia and it’s partners gathered on the Capitol steps to denounce the state Legislature’s budget proposals today, arguing that they would be, quote, “disastrous for West Virginia families, businesses and communities.”
Steven Smith Protect West Virginia representative said, We will not accept any proposal that mortgages the future of our state and hands this problem over to the next generation.”
Smith and other protesters were speaking out against the budget bills currently working through the House and Senate.
Special education teacher Amanda Shelton said her Clay County school operates on the bare minimum right now.
“I hope that they will recognize that when we don’t properly fund education then we are not looking at the future. I don’t think our legislature right now is looking at the long game," said Shelton.
The Senate proposal would reduce state K-12 education funds by more than $79 million.
As a WVU student who graduated from Herbert Hoover High School, Garrett Burgess said he is a product of the West Virginia education system all the way through, and that these cuts just wouldn’t make sense for the future of the state.
“In West Virginia we say we value opportunities for all," Burgess said, "yet the sentiment has not been shared in the halls of this legislature.”
Burgess said that since 2008, higher education funding has been reduced by $130 million and tuition in the state has gone up by 147 percent since 2002.
“Investing in higher education rather than cutting it is a way West Virginia can ensure better future and more opportunities for its people," said Burgess.
Shelton said, “We don’t have an educated work force right now, companies do not want to come here.”
Protect West Virginia’s concerns about the budget don’t stop with education; the group said the cuts would also affect senior citizens with a proposed cut of Medicaid funds by roughly $10 million.
The Protect WV campaign advocates for many of the tax increases and revenue proposals provided by the governor, including the sugary beverage tax and increased tobacco taxes. Both of those taxes have met resistance in the House and Senate.