West Virginia Governor Vetoes Current-Level Funding for Libraries
By Gordon Flagg
West Virginia library advocates suffered a blow March 26 when Gov. Joe Manchin used his line-item veto power to slash library funding in next year’s state budget by 5%. Library supporters had convinced the legislature to maintain funding at current levels despite the weak economy.
Manchin cut the appropriation for grants-in-aid to public libraries from $8,348,884 to $7,931,440 (reducing per-capita funding from $4.62 to $4.38), for books and films from $450,000 to $427,500, and for special projects from $800,000 to $744,800.
West Virginia Library Association Legislative Chair Allen Johnson said he was “deeply disappointed, because the legislature pulled for us.” He noted that this wasn’t the first time Manchin wielded his veto against libraries: Two years ago, when legislators boosted grants-in-aid from $4.06 per capita to $5.21, the governor cut the increase in half, to $4.62.
Johnson noted that West Virginia libraries are heavily dependent on state funding. When a new administrative regulation went into place two years ago requiring localities to provide matching funds in order to receive state grants-in-aid, eight systems received no local funds at all. He added that 70% of local property tax goes to the state, which sends it back to communities as education funding.
According to Johnson, state Education Secretary Kay Goodwin has offered to try to set up a meeting with Gov. Manchin at which library advocates could make their case for secure local funding in the FY2012 budget—or perhaps sooner, in a special legislative session the governor has proposed to address education issues.
American Libraries, Mon, 03/29/2010 - 15:36