There hasn’t been much to applaud during the 2021 session of the West Virginia Legislature, but the Senate deserves some credit for its sanity in a pending amendment to its own state budget plan.
The amendment would eliminate most of the the cuts the budget proposal made to funding for West Virginia and Marshall universities, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The original bill cut $12 million in funding for WVU and $6 million for Marshall, while removing all state funding — $3.8 million — from the Educational Broadcasting Authority.
Cuts to those institutions still exist in the pending amendment, although they are much less severe. Funding for WVU would be cut by $1.5 million, while Marshall would see a $700,000 cut. Public Broadcasting’s funding would be cut by $60,000.
Those cuts will still hurt, but not nearly as much as they would have. It’s good to see some recognition in the Senate of the importance of supporting the state’s two largest universities and Public Broadcasting.
Of course, none of this action is guaranteed. The session is coming down to its final 48 hours, and there will be all kinds of wrangling over the budget before midnight Saturday, especially as the Senate, the House of Delegates and the Gov. Jim Justice push for massive cuts to the state’s personal income tax. They’ll be discussing raising other taxes and looking for other cuts to offset anywhere from $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion in lost revenue from the income tax. So much remains in flux, and there are all kinds of options in play. Justice already has announced an extension to the legislative session, to hammer out the budget.
Extensions for the budget were routine in the Legislature before Justice took office in 2017. So, even this is something of a return to legislative norms.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, this restorative action, as it pertains to Marshall, WVU and Public Broadcasting, will stick.