STATE CUTS CLOTHING VOUCHER BENEFIT - 350 Calhoun Kids Affected, 67 Calhoun Families Have Benefits Reduced

West Virginia has been one of the nation's leaders in welfare cutbacks.

This year the state is continuing to reduce benefits as part of a DHHR $37 million budget reduction.

Cutbacks on school clothing vouchers from $150 to $100 are causing considerable criticism around the state, and basic benefits are being cut by 25%.

The clothing cutback amounts to $3.1 million, affecting 57,000 needy children.

About 350 Calhoun County kids received the clothing vouchers last year.

Senator John Unger, D-Berkley said "We say we don't have money and have to cut back on the poor, but we spend money on these huge projects that are laughable. We just spent $12 million on a baseball stadium, and we've got students going to school in one outfit."

The state just spent a million dollars on a golf course event in Clarksburg connected to Senator Mike Ross and funding issued from the Budget Digest for hundreds of worthwhile but not necessary festivals.

Sixty-seven Calhoun households had a funding decrease in their TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) checks, income being decreased by 25%.

Grantsville DHHR Director Jim Morford said the 67 families are included in what people always call "getting the welfare check." Program recipients have been given five years to improve their financial status before being dropped.

A family of three that now receives $453 will receive $340 starting in August.

Calhoun currently has about 600 cases eligible for food stamps, which cover about 1,400 individuals.

A considerable number of individuals have passed their five year limit on receiving TANF assistance.

About 1,800 individuals in Calhoun, many of them children, receive some kind of assistance from one of Medicaid's 30-35 programs.