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Editorial: Budget could be possible if legislators would listen

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The Wild Ramp, a local nonprofit based in Huntington, has appealed to its audience on Facebook to have its funding restored in the budget bill that has yet to be passed by the West Virginia Legislature.

While it’s an issue in itself that a budget agreement has yet to be reached well after the end of the regular session, it’s also an issue that vital local programs have continuously had their funding threatened.

“In 2015 and 2016, we received $37,900 from the state and that has resulted in $500,000 being returned to area farmers,” read the post on The Wild Ramp’s Facebook page June 2. “That is a good investment!! Please contact your elected officials and let them know that you value Farmers Markets and urge them to continue funding The Wild Ramp.”

Back in January West Virginia Public Broadcasting appealed to its audience because the funding for the entity was reportedly going to be completely cut.

“We believe this would be unwise and irresponsible,” said Susan C. Hogan, chair of Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and Ted Armbrecht, chair of West Virginia Public Broadcasting Foundation, in a joint statement on the WVPB website in February. “We understand the state needs to save money, but such a drastic and immediate cut threatens the very existence of our state’s PBS and NPR stations. West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) is a state agency that receives about half its revenues from the state. For every $1 the state invests in it, WVPB matches it with $1. But if state funding is completely eliminated, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the state of West Virginia stand to lose much of those matching funds – hurting our economy even more.”

While Gov. Jim Justice thinks putting the Legislative leadership in separate rooms and going between them as a mediator is the solution to the problems facing the state, as reported in multiple releases from the governor’s office, the actual solution is quite simple: listen to the people.

Individuals have recently been protesting, contacting their representatives and organizing rallies in numbers that haven’t been seen in years. If Justice and others want to find a budget agreement that will work for the state, they should listen to the citizens here.

Social media is a powerful tool. It can be helpful to organizations like the Wild Ramp that want their voices heard during a time when the only way to get legislators to listen is to cause a public outcry.

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