Curb child abuse, domestic violence
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is absolutely correct in his desire to ensure state funding to help victims of domestic violence and child abuse is spent effectively. West Virginia taxpayers cannot afford to fritter our money away on initiatives that merely sound good.
But the governor and members of the Legislature should rethink a line-item veto Tomblin exercised in dealing with the state budget.
Lawmakers had approved a spending plan that included about $7.6 million for various programs aimed at curbing child abuse and domestic violence and helping victims. Tomblin, citing a need to reduce spending to keep the budget balanced, sliced $1,067,900 from the items.
His veto message explained some of the money he cut would be replaced by a special fee collected in circuit courts. Tomblin added that some programs covered by the line item will be evaluated to ensure they are effective and do not duplicate services provided elsewhere.
This week a group of Republican lawmakers joined the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition in urging the matter be placed on the agenda for a special meeting of the Legislature to be held in May. Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, is among those making the request.
Funding to fight child abuse and domestic violence that was cut out of the budget should be restored, members of the coalition believe.
It may be reductions in service can be avoided without putting the entire $1,067,900 back in the budget. About $200,000 of it is an increase over current-year spending. And, as Tomblin noted, some of the funding will be replaced by the circuit court fee.
A lesser amount, then, probably could maintain existing services. Tomblin should agree to consider that during the Legislature’s special session.
Again, we agree with the governor that too much taxpayers’ money goes to ineffective, often duplicative programs. During the next year, initiatives funded by the line item in question should be evaluated.
But cutting money for them in advance of such an examination risks doing away with worthwhile programs to prevent child abuse and domestic violence and assist victims.