Lawmakers, students react to GOP budget proposal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)-- The WVU Board of Governors held an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to discuss legislative issues and the possibility of major funding cuts coming their way.

The meeting was in executive session and behind closed doors, but officials did tell us the major topic discussed was the state budget and they are concerned the proposed cuts could impact the university.

This come after Republican leaders outlined their budget proposal on Monday. They say their version will not exceed the $4 billion revenue estimate. However, one of their suggestions is to make cuts to education.

"Students already struggle financially so I don't think a budget cut would benefit anybody," said Andrew Aluise, Sophomore at WVU.

"As an English major. I know English and the humanities are always usually the first to go when they make budget cuts, so that really concerns me since I am not a science major or anything," said Lindsey Zirkle, Freshman at WVU.

"For future students, I feel like it might impact enrollment because people feel like they can't afford it," said Kirsten Beverage, Senior at WVU.

Lawmakers say at least $150 million will come from the DHHR, K-12 education, and higher education

"That's just where our big chunk of spending lies. I would like to go to an avenue of more higher education than public education. There's a lot of jobs in K-12 that could be affected. The money that we give to our higher education programs is only about 20% across the board to fund these institutions. They still rely primarily on their own funding and their own funding sources," said Ben Queen (R-Harrison, 48).

Republicans say the specifics of the cuts will be determined through the normal budgeting process.

However, Democracts disagree on the proposed cuts.

"I would absolutely oppose any further cuts to higher education or public education. It's detrimental to our state to be playing with that budget particularly. Education is key to the growth of our state along with infrastructure. We are addressing infrastructure thankfully, but right now I could not get behind any further cuts to education," said Bob Beach, (D-Monongalia, 13).

"Education should be an economic center piece for West Virginia. It shouldn't be the low hanging fruit that gets the first round of budget cuts. Higher education has been cut to the bone. I have received so many calls from higher ed institutions and they just can't take another. That will all trickle back down on tuition fees and families are already struggling to pay more for their children's education," said Mike Caputo, (D-Marion, 50).

Republicans said they have come up with about $278 million in budget measures that will make up the difference between the GOP's proposal and Justice’s proposed budget of $4.5 billion.