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Child advocate group continues to push governor to restore cuts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A coalition comprised of groups advocating the elimination of poverty continues to urge Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to fully restore funding cuts affecting eight statewide programs.

Our Children, Our Future has called on the governor to restore the $1.06 million in cuts to programs such as Child Advocacy Centers, Family Resource Networks and domestic violence legal programs—just to name a few—since he exercised his line-item veto power in late March. In his veto message, Tomblin cited tight budget constraints and the need to “reduce base budget spending.” But Our Children, Our Future members argue cutting these programs could have an adverse affect on the economy because it further strains single parents, parents with low-income jobs and women and children who find themselves in abusive situations. In addition, about 80 jobs would be lost statewide if the funding cuts go into effect.

“We are asking the governor to tell these families they will still get a hand up out of poverty,” Jamie Gudielle, a member of Our Children, Our Future’s steering committee, told reporters on a conference call. “We are asking the governor to save the 80 jobs on the chopping block if these cuts go through.”

Guidelle said the group has requested to meet with Tomblin five times, but no meeting has been scheduled. Some group members did meet with Karen Bowling, head of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and Bob Kiss, secretary of the Department of Revenue, to air their concerns. Last week, Tomblin announced he would restore about $260,000 of the $1.06 million in cuts, but some of that restoration is a result of moving money from one account to another. Stephen Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Family Kids and Families Coalition, told the Daily Mail after that announcement he was pleased with Tomblin’s decision, but wants to see a long-term solution.

“It’s a good step. It’s not enough,” Smith said last week. “Essentially, they’ve restored $260,000 out of 1.06 million that they’ve cut. So while this is a good start, we certainly can’t claim this as a victory for the 80-plus people still set to lose their jobs if the rest of the cuts go into effect. Our hope is this is what the governor can do through the executive branch and this is a sign that he’s willing to work with the Legislature to fill the entire gap. We know there is interest from legislators.”

Our Children, Our Future is planning a rally at the state capitol to begin at noon May 20. The rally could coincide with an expected special session, to begin May 19, where lawmakers will discuss the budget and the flawed minimum wage bill Tomblin signed last month.

Other advocates of the programs spoke on the conference call …

Read the full story at http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20140515/DM0104/140519528/1298

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or [email protected]. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.


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