Ashton Marra Published

Legislature Restores More Than $1 Million in Funding to Child & Family Programs

Brent Boggs

Updated on Wednesday: May 21, 2014 at 1:05 p.m.:

The State Senate has concurred with the amendment and from the House and has passed the bill. The bill now goes to Governor Tomblin and awaits his signature.

The Senate passed the bill 30-1. Sen. Herb Snyder was the lone vote against.

Original Post on Wednesday: May 21, 2014 at 12:24 p.m.:

An amendment unanimously approved by the West Virginia House of Delegates would fully restore more than $1 million in cuts to family and child service programs.

Those cuts came in March as part of a line item veto by Gov. Tomblin. Later, the governor restored about $260,000 of those cuts by taking money from a trust fund to provide future children’s programs.

Members of the House amended a special session bill dealing with appropriations from excess lottery for Fiscal Year 2015, beginning July 1. The amendment cuts $1.06 million from the racetrack purse fund to restore the governor’s cuts to child advocacy centers, family resource centers and domestic violence prevention and assistance programs.

Advocates held a rally at the Capitol Tuesday urging lawmakers to find a way to restore the more than $800,000 in funding to make service programs whole, but instead of finding just that amount, Delegates voted to restore the full $1.06 million, putting money back into the trust fund the governor had used to previously restore funding.

“This is especially good news as it would mean the state would not need to borrow against other children’s programs,” Stephen Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said in an email after the vote.

The money comes from excess lottery revenues that would have been appropriated to the racetrack purse fund. The money in that fund is used to pay winners who bet on races at horse tracks.

“Unfortunately, we’re taking this money from a group that doesn’t deserve to be cut either,” Delegate J.B. McCuskey said on the floor, “but this will show West Virginians where our priorities are.”

Lawmakers say moving those revenues to fund services should not affect the racing industry itself, as in the number of races they are able to run, but may slightly effect the amount tracks are able to pay out.