Funding for Children, Families Added to Appropriation Bill

CHARLESTON – With bipartisan support, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted an amendment to a special session supplemental appropriation bill to transfer more than $1 million to family resource networks, domestic violence programs, child advocacy centers, the Children’s Trust Fund and in-home family education.

“I applaud Finance Chairman Brent Boggs and other members of House leadership for reaching out to a variety of members who have been working to address these vital needs, and coming up with a fiscally responsible measure that all lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, could support,” House Speaker Tim Miley said.

The amendment to Senate Bill 2003, which distributes money from the State Excess Lottery Revenue Fund, transfers $1.068 million from the Licensed Racetrack Regular Purse Fund and distribute it as follows:

* $150,464 to Family Resource Networks

* $30,000 to Domestic Violence Legal Services Fund

* $250,000 to In-Home Family Education

* $357,900 to Grants for Licensed Domestic Violence Programs

* $80,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund

* $200,000 to Child Advocacy Centers

SB 2003 passed both the House and Senate today and is on its way to Governor Tomblin for his signature.

Delegate David Walker, one of the sponsors of the amendment, said many House members were troubled when these allocations, which were included in the House version of the state budget, were later removed.

“We feel strongly that these programs are extremely important to the well being of those West Virginia families in need,” Walker, D-Clay, said. “This is the right thing to do.”

Delegate Jason Barrett, D-Berkeley, serves as treasurer of the Shenandoah Women’s Center, which provides domestic violence and sexual assault crisis treatment and prevention for residents of the Eastern Panhandle.

“I understand all too well how critical this funding is,” Barrett said. “These social service programs, which operate on a shoestring, provide direct support services to those who need it most, many of whom otherwise might receive no help at all. We can’t let such victims fall through the cracks.”

The House Select Committee on Crimes Against Children, Chaired by Delegate Linda Phillips, D-Wyoming, recently held a press conference calling for restoration of the funds.

Delegates Nancy Guthrie, D-Kanawha, and Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, both also sponsors of the amendment, spoke out at the press conference as well.

“I know I represent all members of the Committee on Crimes Against Children in expressing gratitude and relief that this pressing problem has been resolved,” Phillips said. “These programs affect our whole state and benefit our most vulnerable.”

Delegate Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor, said he was eager to sponsor the proposed amendment.

“I’m proud to have had the opportunity to co-sponsor the amendment to reinstate these funds, which will help protect children and help families throughout west Virginia,” he said.

Close to 200 supporters of the programs traveled to the Capitol this week to advocate for the funding.

“Today’s announcement is proof that our democracy is working,” said Stephen Smith, Executive Director for the Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. “Kids and families made their voices heard, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle listened.

“We commend the House and Senate for making this investment in our state’s future, and we look forward to working with the Governor to make this a reality.”

Other sponsors of the amendment were Delegates Tony Barill, D-Monongalia; Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia; Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton; and Danny Wells, D-Kanawha.

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