Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fighting for Decimal Dust in the Budget

I'm sick and tired of fighting for decimal dust in the state budget.

Larry Messina reports that WV will once again end the current fiscal year with about a $100 million budget surplus. This continues a trend for at least the past 7 years.

WV's Budget Plan
Year after year in June, we have budget surpluses in WV. But year after year in January, lawmakers say how "bad" the budget is that year, and deny modest budget requests for programs that prevent child abuse and neglect.

Myself and other advocates have been asking for less than $1 million for child abuse prevention, and although revenue surpluses have consistently been 100 times that much - each year lawmakers say they can't afford to appropriate additional funds. Meanwhile, the cost to our state for dealing with abuse after it occurs is staggering - not to mention the impact on children's lives.

I understand the importance of financial stewardship. But West Virginia has the best funded Rainy Day Funds in the country.  We keep saving money for a Rainy Day, but as one of the poorest states in the nation, it is already a Rainy Day for many West Virginians - especially children.

I think it's time we dedicated a portion of our state's budget surpluses to supporting early childhood programs that we know will yield positive benefits to improve our state - rather than essentially stuffing the money in a mattress and wondering why WV remains at the bottom of national rankings.

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