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Gov. Justice taps funds for Boy Scouts projects, takes jab at lawmakers

CHRIS DORST | Gazette-Mail file photo
Boy Scouts salute during the opening ceremony of the 2013 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County. in Fayette County.

In his latest attack on the Legislature, Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday he is taking about $400,000 from the governor’s civil contingency fund to underwrite community service projects that the Boy Scouts of America will perform in southern West Virginia during the National Jamboree, which begins this week at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette County.

In a news release Monday, Justice said he had to tap into his contingency funds to provide funding for the projects, because the Legislature failed to approve his proposed Save Our State economic development fund.

Contending that a “reckless budget by the Legislature nearly stopped critical Scouts projects,” Justice commented, “We simply must stand with the Boy Scouts and give them the support they need to make a difference in communities across West Virginia.”

In 2013, during the first Jamboree at Summit Bechtel, some 40,000 Boy Scouts completed 353 service projects around southern West Virginia, providing an estimated 300,000 hours of service, according to a July 23, 2013 article in the Gazette.

As it will again this year, the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia, a Beckley-based nonprofit best known for operating the state Courtesy Patrol, organized and supervised the Boy Scouts’ service initiative.

According to its 2013 IRS Form 990 disclosure, the CCC received $339,307 of revenue and had $164,503 of expenditures for the Boy Scouts initiative.

While there was no specific line-item in the 2013-14 state budget for the Boy Scouts community service initiative, virtually all of CCC’s funding that year, as every year, was from the state. According to the 990 form, the CCC received a total of $4.437 million of state revenue in 2013, with all other contributions, gifts and grants totaling $90,983.

The CCC’s primary function is operating the Courtesy Patrol, which provides assistance to motorists on 25 state highway routes during overnight hours.

In recent years, there have been multiple legislative attempts to eliminate funding for the program, which some consider unnecessary with the advent of cellphones and the availability of private motorist assistance organizations such as AAA.

Salaries paid to executives of the nonprofit have also generated controversy. In the most recent 990 filing, CCC chief executive officer Robert Martin disclosed a salary of $340,808.

Monday’s release was the Justice’s latest salvo against the Legislature, which rejected his proposals to raise state revenue, instead passing a $4.225 billion budget bill that the governor called a “travesty” and refused to sign.

In the past week, Justice has issued a series of releases that blame the Legislature for failing to turn the state around by rejecting his revenue plan, for starting off the 2017-18 budget year with an immediate $11 million deficit and for a CNBC report ranking the state’s business climate as 50th in the nation.

He also memorably criticized the state Senate for awarding an $860,000 contract to renovate eight Senate restrooms, calling it wasteful spending in light of the bare-bones state budget.

“When they cut the legs out from underneath our people, they should not be rewarded with a spending spree,” he said of the restroom project.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1220 or follow @PhilKabler on Twitter.

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