Gov. Joe Manchin

By GOV. JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- During the past 19 months, we as West Virginians have worked together like never before to make positive changes that will create a brighter economic future for our state.

As our year-end revenue collections have confirmed, it's no secret that West Virginia is again enjoying a very successful financial year.

While we've taken advantage of very strong revenue years in 2005 and 2006 to get our fiscal house in order, we also have taken the responsible steps to care for our neediest citizens.

In working diligently with the members of the Legislature, and with the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, we unanimously agreed last summer to allow a $50 per child increase in the West Virginia School Clothing Voucher program -– increasing vouchers from $150 per child to $200 per child. This increase directly benefited more than 57,000 West Virginia school-age children living at or below the federal poverty level.

I am pleased that we're keeping our School Clothing Vouchers at a $200 level per child for a second consecutive school year. This is a responsible step that will provide immediate relief to West Virginia's neediest families at a time when dollars are stretched to their limits as families prepare to send their children back to school.

Purchases made with West Virginia Children's Clothing Vouchers are limited to clothing articles and piece goods to make clothing articles. The purchases are tax-free. The deadline to apply for the clothing assistance was July 31, and the vouchers must be redeemed at participating stores by Oct. 31, 2006.

With our "Responsible Government" initiatives, we're reviewing how we spend state dollars in every agency of this government. We must spend our state tax dollars where we know West Virginians are getting the most benefit. This is a program that has a proven track record for getting direct financial help to the families that need it most across our state.

The Children's Clothing Voucher Program truly targets West Virginia's families who need help the most, and I appreciate the Department of Health and Human Resources' efforts to make this increase again a reality for West Virginia's families.

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