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House committee passes bill to dismantle West Virginia Dept. of Education and Arts


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha,

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia House Education Committee passed Wednesday an extensive bill that would dismantle the state Department of Education and the Arts, sending agencies and functions within it to other areas or spinning them off as independent agencies.

But committee members who opposed House Bill 4006, which now heads to the House Finance Committee, questioned whether the legislation would really maintain useful programs under the Department of Education and the Arts and would lead to a loss of focus on the arts. The bill is similar to one that failed to pass in last year’s legislative session.

“We’re just throwing these programs to the wind,” said Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha, before the committee passed the bill in a voice vote.

But House Education Vice Chairman Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, said “the only funding that I’m aware of, in this bill, that is cut is for the secretary’s position.”

He and Delegate Michael Folk, R-Berkeley, argued the department shouldn’t have continued operating after former Gov. Gaston Caperton failed in his effort to exalt it, and Folk said it has become a “catch all” for various programs.

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