Budget battle continues at West Virginia Legislature

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — The Senate and House are trying to work out their differences on the state budget. So far, they have finally agreed on setting aside 20 million dollars more to help people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, known as I-D-D’s.

“We’re saving money, because those children aren’t institutionalized. They’re not in a group home setting. They’re at home where they should be. And the adults of course, as well,” said State Sen. Mike Woelfel, (D) Cabell.

On the other hand, the two sides are far apart on funding foster care reforms.

“We need to get more people to commit themselves to being foster care parents, or kinship parents, so that we can get some of these kids in good homes,” said Del. Tim Miley, (D) Harrison – Minority Leader.

The Senate has set aside 5-million dollars while the House has approved 17 million dollars, for the state’s 7-thousand foster kids. Republican Senate leaders believe they will find the money to match the House.

“I’m not too concerned about that. We’ll work through things, and it’s normal in the process. We’re tracking well right now,” said State Sen. Craig Blair, Chairman, (R) Berkeley – Finance Committee.

Meanwhile the House has not funded special high-powered bullet-proof vests for state troopers and wildlife officers, after a trooper was shot last summer. The Senate is still trying.

“Now this vest weighs probably about 120 pounds, but it would stop a high-powered rifle bullet if it struck them in their torso or body,” said State Sen. Bill Hamilton (R) Upshur.

The House has funded a second Mountaineer Challenge Academy for at-risk youth, but the Senate hasn’t.

“Members of the House and Senate will try to work out their differences on the budget, but the window of opportunity is closing soon. They have until midnight Saturday to do so,” said Mark Curtis 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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