How the West Virginia legislature plans to appropriate federal funds

Politics

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Monday’s opening day of the special session called by Governor Justice left some unfinished business: the task of appropriating millions of dollars in federal money to various state agencies.

Redistricting may have been the first thing on the Governor’s Proclamation for the special session, but it’s followed by a long list of appropriation bills.

“We spent a whole long time while something like 30 appropriations bills were introduced, and incidentally when I was in the finance committee we would not have taken this long,” said Del. John Doyle (D-Jefferson).

This last legislative session, the legislature voted to change the process by which the state spends federal money.

Del. Doyle says it needs to be done because the constitution states the legislature has the “power of the purse.”

This means that the legislature needs to authorize the federal money going to the West Virginia state agencies for the upcoming fiscal year before they can spend it.

“Without us authorizing the use of those funds, the money will go back to the federal government, and a lot of those programs that the average West Virginian is used to seeing the government perform wouldn’t be possible,” said Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay).

Agencies like the Bureau of Senior Services ($16,000,000), Division of Arts Culture and History ($765,400), DHHR Community Mental Health Services ($267,969), and the DHHR’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Fund ($218,330) stand to receive thousands of dollars.

Cumulatively more than $3,000,000 will be going to the Department of Veterans Assistance as well as the Veterans’ Home Fund.

All of this money affects West Virginian’s lives in some shape or form.

Speaker Hanshaw says there is leftover Cares Act money that they will be appropriating, but they will be sitting on more of it to help reimburse hospitals down the road.

“We’ll expect also to carry some of it into the next couple of years because hospitals are going to be dealing with the aftermath of this coronavirus probably for the next couple of years,” he said.

The appropriations bills go into second reading Tuesday.

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