Emily Rice Published

NAACP And Partners Respond To Governor’s Flat Budget Proposal

Pastor Matthew Watts (Tuesday Morning Group) speaks at Thursday morning's press conference.
West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy

The morning after his seventh State of the State address, advocacy groups gathered at the capitol to voice concerns about Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed flat budget.

The West Virginia Education Association partnered with the Charleston chapter of the NAACP and several other West Virginia-based advocacy groups to hold a press conference Thursday morning. Speakers discussed their concerns about the repercussions a flat budget could cause for West Virginians, particularly children, working families and communities of color.

“So our message today is that our children are counting on lawmakers and the governor to set forth a path that helps children thrive and helps families thrive,” said Jim McKay, state coordinator of Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia. “And unfortunately, we’ve seen that despite how many families in every corner of the state who are struggling, lawmakers are not proposing programs to help meet their needs.”

McKay noted the expense of child care as a contributing factor to the struggle of many in the state.

“What we didn’t hear was anything (in the budget) about children after they’re born until they enter school,” McKay said. “And so for our organization, we really want to prioritize the needs of young children, help value moms and dads and by doing that, then children are going to have their best chance of success in school and in life.”

Darryl Clausell is the President of the NAACP of Charleston. He urged legislators to prioritize the needs of West Virginians when passing the budget.

“One, we have to quit playing cookie cutter politics, or party politics. Get to the real issues that affect West Virginians, you know, not legislation to follow a stream of what other states are doing, but it doesn’t really benefit us in West Virginia,” Clausell said. “Let’s not rob Peter to pay Paul, to eliminate one segment of our state income means we’re going to have to have trade offs and make it somewhere else.”

Clausell, McKay and other advocates asked for transparency in budget-making from lawmakers this session, in order to build a budget that works for all West Virginians.