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West Virginia officials negotiating with feds over more than $460M in COVID funds

By Charles Young, The Exponent Telegram

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State officials are currently negotiating with the federal government regarding more than $460 million distributed to counties during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the chair of the House of Delegates Committee on Finance.

As members of the committee were discussing the House’s version of the annual state budget bill Friday morning, Del. Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said the Governor’s Office is negotiating with representatives of the U.S. Department of Education.

“There is a potential of a federal claw-back of $465 million through the COVID and CARES process of rules that came after monies were dispensed to counties in the education field,” he said. “There were seven sets of rules changed in 11 weeks.”

The issue has accelerated the process of passing this year’s state budget bill, Criss said.

“We are to a point that, because of timing, we need to pass a budget,” he said. “We need to do something today, out of here, to get on the floor, so we can receive the Senate’s [budget bill], so we can introduce and then go to negotiations this weekend, hopefully to come up with something.”

Criss clarified that pandemic relief funds were not misspent or misused.

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