“Subtracting these line items out of the budget and then promising a supplemental appropriation down the road is offering a mere band aid,” said Delegate Don Perdue, chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee. “These vetoes create unnecessary uncertainty for these vital agencies that are trying to provide consistent, uninterrupted services, and at the same time plan their next budget year.”
Sen. Roman Prezioso, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, said such programs should be permanent fixtures in the budget.
“We’re talking about $1 million less for domestic violence programs and prevention and $500,000 less for health right free clinics,” said Prezioso, D-Marion. “The Governor mentions supplemental appropriations to compensate but we don’t feel that’s sufficient to ensure the stability of these programs.”
The free clinics work to ensure that uninsured West Virginians are able to receive basic health care.
“With the number of layoffs that have occurred, it is critical that these entities provide basic care so that acute hospital care is not required,” Perdue said.
The chairman noted that the line item vetoes issued today, which also included a sharp cut to in-home family education services, signal a lack of commitment to these important programs.
“The in-home care program has proven to greatly help parents learn to better care for their children and reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect,” Prezioso said. “That can affect a child’s life tremendously.”
Aside from the outright cuts to these programs, the change from budgetary line item to a promise of a supplemental appropriation is significant, Perdue said.
“It makes it impossible for providers to use the state dollars as a match in grant applications since their funding is not reflected in the budget and is not assured year to year,” Perdue, D-Wayne, said. “Supplemental appropriations are considered much less assured than a budget line item.”
This method of budgeting leaves the funding decisions up to the Governor, when it is the Legislature that is responsible for appropriating state dollars, Perdue noted.