House Finance Advances House Budget Bill

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The House Finance Committee advanced the House budget bill, which includes funding for line items including eliminating the wait list for the IDD waiver, and additional funding for proposed foster care improvements.

The committee took up House Bill 4021 in its Thursday afternoon meeting. Find the presentation here.

The $4.578 billion budget includes $16.8 million for foster care under House Bill 4092 and an additional $4.4 million for increasing CPS staffing. Among other provisions, House Bill 4092 calls for an increase in the per diem rate for foster families. The bill also includes $108 million to eliminate the wait list for the IDD waiver.

Additional improvements include about $17 million for Medicaid restoration, $1.8 million for the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, $760,000 for a newly-established Legislative Fiscal Notes Office, $182,000 for the health professionals’ student loan program, $80,000 for a career exploration tool app for high school juniors, and $50,000 for the Development Office.

The House Budget Bill made cuts to the governor’s proposed budget, including $5 million to Tourism as opposed to the originally proposed $10 million; not including additional funding for a proposed second Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy unless there is a revenue surplus; a $1.8 million cut from his proposed budget to the MARC Train; and additional cuts to the governor’s proposed Jobs & Hope programs.

Some delegates mentioned concerns that the budget did not allocate additional funding to the MARC Train, to senior services, or for preparing for the coronavirus.

“This is starting to become an epidemic and I’m afraid we haven’t done anything,” Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton said, noting varying mortality rates for those over the age of 70. “We are one of the oldest states in the nation and we need to get serious about this when it comes.”

Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, said she was pleased to support the budget bill.

“We did not spend all revenue directed by the governor and are keeping it in a contingency plan for future needs that may arise,” Storch said. “I am pleased to support this. I have heard from many people in my district who want to fund the IDD waiver, which was cut in the Senate’s budget. I am glad we were able to do that and fund foster care.”