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Local entities feeling impact of governor’s cuts

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Area health care, education and economic development programs fell victim to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto pen this week.

Tomblin on Monday signed the $4.3 billion state budget sent to him by the Republican-led Legislature, but not before exercising his line-item veto authority to cut $11 million from various programs.

“As stewards of taxpayer money, we must be committed to fiscal responsibility and not commit one-time surplus funds to increase ongoing spending,” Tomblin wrote in his budget letter.

“Some of these reductions curb grants and services and, while they are difficult, they are necessary to responsibly manage future year budgets, without raising taxes,” the governor added.

With the cuts, Tomblin relied on $14.8 million from the rainy-day fund to balance the budget, compared to $23 million in the spending plan submitted by lawmakers.

The budget Tomblin signed is for the 2015-16 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Funding for free health clinics across the state took a $250,000 cut — from $3 million to $2.75 million, according to the budget letter.

One of those free clinics — Health Access in Clarksburg — will see its state funding drop from $258,833 to $176,000 as a result, Executive Director Jim Harris said.

Health Access is offsetting the reduction in state funding by cutting where it can, seeking more local support and having fundraisers, Harris said.

The clinic hasn’t filled vacant positions, meaning five full-time employees are tending to the underprivileged in need of health care, Harris said.

“We provide care to people who don’t have access to care anyplace else,” he added. “We’re the safety net. Now is not the time to defund the safety net system…

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