Jessica Lilly Published

Child Advocacy Groups Question Governor's Priorities


Child abuse and poverty prevention advocates are questioning Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s priorities.

Among the $67 million worth of cuts from the budget bill Thursday was about a $1 million reduction in funding for programs meant to prevent child abuse and child poverty.

Governor Tomblin started the 2014 session with a budget that cut funding for programs like In Home Family Education, Family Resource Networks, Child Advocacy Centers and other child abuse prevention programs.

Throughout the session the groups worked together to call on legislators in the House and Senate to restore funding to these agencies … and it worked, until the final budget signing.

In this case Tomblin rolled back what the legislature appropriated to his budget recommendations.  

In a letter Governor Tomblin said, “…cuts are never easy but are necessary in our state’s current financial situation.” In some items Tomblin said the cuts were made to “determine if any duplication is taking place” in things like family support programs.

Stephen Smith is disappointed to see cuts to programs meant to help the most vulnerable kids and families.

“Your budget is a moral document,”  Director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Family Coalition Stephen Smith said. “It’s a statement of what you think is important of the priorities of what you think is important.”

“If this is our moral document than we’re saying that luxury hotels and other programs and casinos and other things and those things are more important than early childhood programs.”

On the same day, the governor  signed into law an extension of the Tourism Development Act which is expected to provide millions in tax breaks to The Greenbrier Resort. Owner Jim Justice says the money will be used to build an NFL training camp for the New Orleans Saints. The camp is expected to bring in tourism dollars to Greenbrier County.