Tomblin approves budget bill, changes - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WV Gov. Tomblin approves budget bill, changes

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UPDATE 12:30 p.m., March 20:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a total of $67 million from the budget bill.

The cuts were made to various agencies including taking $12,123 from the Children's Protection Act that will now receive a total of $935,819 to go towards services like the West Virginia State Trooper's Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.

A much-debated appropriation to providing in-home care for seniors was cut by $3.5 million.

The cut was made to the optional Medicaid program that would provide services to seniors in West Virginia in their homes. Tomblin said although it is an important option, he would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to evaluate all care provided to seniors to ensure appropriate utilization of services.

Tomblin said he made the small cut in a difficult budget year because "it is imperative that a cautious and prudent approach be taken to slow growth in the state's base budget."

The expansion of Medicaid and implementation of the Affordable Car Act should be monitored prior to significantly expanding the program, he added.

Tomblin also made a $100,000 cut to West Virginia University and took $222,578 from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Click HERE to read the line item veto for the budget bill in its entirety.

Other cut funding included:

  • $150,464 from the Family Resource Networks and Family Resource Centers, 
  • $250,000 from in-home Family Education programs, 
  • $80,000 from the West Virginia Children's Trust Fund for grants to go towards preventing child abuse, 
  • $357,900 from domestic violence prevention, 
  • $200,000 from the Child Advocacy Centers including an additional $200,000 keeping funding level for local programs due to rapid growth and expansion and 
  • $12,000 from the Children's Protection Act.

Original Story 11 a.m., March 20:

Senate Bill 306, also known as the budget bill, was approved by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin March 19 with some changes.

Previously passed by the West Virginia Senate 25-9 and the West Virginia House of Delegates by 77-18, the bill was approved on the same day it was sent to the governor.

During the regular session, there was much debate over how much money was going to have to be taken out of the state's Rainy Day Fund to balance the 2015 fiscal year budget.

The final amount taken from the Rainy Day Fund, approved by the Legislature, was $147 million, a $63 million difference from what Tomblin had originally estimated.

Although Tomblin apparently made "deletions and reductions" to the budget before signing it into law.

Changes to the bill were made after Senate Finance chairman Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said Tomblin estimated a $120 million shortfall in the 2015 fiscal year state budget.

He said nonexempt state agencies took a 7.5 percent reduction in funding for the second year in a row. For the first time in history, the governor recommended dipping into the state's Rainy Day Fund to the tune of $83,835,248 million. The money would go to Medicaid to balance this fiscal year's budget, Prezioso added.

Several appropriation bills were passed during a special legislative session called for by Tomblin, including some that would directly impact the state's budget.

Funding restored to the budget bill after the special session included:

 

  • $150,464 to the Family Resource Networks and Family Resource Centers, 
  • $250,000 to in-home Family Education programs, 
  • $80,000 to the West Virginia Children's Trust Fund for grants to go towards preventing child abuse, 
  • $357,900 to domestic violence prevention, 
  • $111,908 for the Child Advocacy Centers including an additional $200,000 keeping funding level for local programs due to rapid growth and expansion and 
  • $2 million for the West Virginia State Police. The WVSP Crimes Against Children Unit was also given an additional $2 million.

 

Another bill that was restored after the special session was House Bill 4333. It was nicknamed the Haircut Bill because it would trim the budget the state gives certain agencies.

The measure, renamed House Bill 101 during the special session, reduced the state's Rainy Day Fund expenditures by $21 million, cuts $1 million from infrastructure and 10 percent from all totals to every "bucket" lawmakers used as a metaphor for the areas of funding cuts.

"Basically, all the buckets were in statute, the Legislature had no oversight," Prezioso said. 

And because Lottery Commission funding was previously placed in state code, the Legislature couldn't alter how much money had been appropriated.