Looming state budget cuts could reduce funding for state public transportation by up to 15 percent, state officials are saying.

Public Transit Director Susan O'Connell said local transit operations would likely cut services and lay off workers should the state follow through with plans to cut the division's budget 7.5 percent.

Locally affected could be the Little Kanawha Transit system which provides services to Calhoun, Roane and Jackson counties.

The company will be moving into a new $2.2 million facility at Mt. Zion in early 2013.

Thirty-three counties across the state have some sort of public transportation program.

O'Connell told state budget officials if the state cut funding, it is unlikely local governments would be able to step up to fill the gaps.

Earlier this year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked many state agency heads to cut 7.5 percent from their budget requests for the fiscal year that starts next July 1.

Tomblin said the cuts are necessary to free up about $85 million in the general revenue fund to cover increasing Medicaid costs.

While most state transportation programs are funded with federal dollars or State Road Fund revenue, general revenue money serves as matching funds for several federal grants the agency secures for public transportation programs.

Because the state money is used to help secure federal grants, O'Connell said state reductions would result in a double whammy for programs funded by those grants.

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