Few states are in the position of West Virginia. For once our State is the envy of others. Because of the decisions we made in the Legislature over the last six years to pay down our state debt and put money away for future needs, our state is weathering the economic downturn fairly well. Cuts in the fiscal year 2010-2011, (FY 2011) State Budget are necessary if our State is to remain solvent. The budget submitted by each agency and department for FY 2011 is 5 percent lower than the fiscal year 2009-2010. (FY 2010) budget.
Our budget for FY 2011 is $11.6 billion. This is about a one percent increase or $66 million more than FY 2010. Although the FY 2010 and FY 2011 budget amounts are similar, the allocation of revenue to departments and agencies in FY 2011 has changed. New programs have been created to help our youth remain in school and help prepare them for good jobs. Funding for business development and job creation has been increased. Programs to help families that care for seniors with medical needs have increased. Emphasis has been put on increasing funding for programs which will help citizens and enable our State to better serve the needs of our citizens.
Let us review some of the general revenue highlights of the FY 2011.
Creation of Business Courts (HB 4352), allocates $1.25 million to our Supreme Court for the creation of a civil business court section within the Circuit Court. These courts will hear the complex, lengthy business suits which require the judge to have an understanding of complex business arrangements, accounting, tax and finance. The creation of business courts will provide litigants with a dedicated court system and judge, quicker access to the court, shorter litigation time and consistency in decisions.
Drug Courts (HB 4593), an education bill which addresses the high school drop-out rate, allocates an additional $400,000 to our Supreme Court for the creation of up to four new Drug Courts. Our State implemented a pilot program for Drug Courts about four years ago.
These teen Drug Courts, overseen by a Circuit Court Judge, use teenagers, who were former drug offenders, as part of the Drug Court.
This approach has shown to be highly successful in rehabilitating and deterring drug use.
Safe Schools (HB 4593), description above, allocates an additional $1.6 million to the Department of Education (DOE) for programs to improve our high school graduation rate.
State Aid to Schools (HB 4593) above, allocates an additional $1.5 million to (DOE) for Step One of the SAF.
Title X1X, Waiver for Senior Citizens, a program which permits seniors to remain in their homes and receive needed medical services instead of being required to move to an assisted living home, is allocated $7.5 million. This is a $10 million increase over FY 2010. These additional funds will provide services to approximately 900 additional citizens who are presently on the waiting list.
Senior Services Funding, the Alzheimer’s Respite Care, and Senior Services Medicaid Transfer programs are funded at the FY 2010 level. In essence, this increases the funds to both programs by restoring to these programs the FY 2011 five percent budget decrease requested by the Governor. And West Virginia Development Office, The Highway Authorities and Local Economic Development Assistance were also restored to their FY 2010 funding.
This is a quick look at the highlights of the State Budget. More information and details about the Budget can be found on our Legislative website listed below.
Should you have any questions or need further assistance, please feel free to call me on the cell phone number listed below.
Delegate Patti E. Schoen can be reached at 304-340-3141 (capitol phone) or 304-415-0411 (cell), or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information please check out www.pattischoen.us and www.legis.state.wv.us.