CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Prominent civil rights and community leader Rev. Matt Watts is calling on Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) and the legislature to fully fund West Virginia State University after it was short-changed for decades.
The West Virginia legislative session begins on January 10th and this will be one of the top issues.
West Virginia State University was underfunded to the tune of $850 million for 30 years, according to letters to the governor received from the U.S. Secretaries of Education and Agriculture.
Since WVSU is a land-grant and historically black university, it receives special funding from Congress. There is a formula the state is supposed to use to match those grants, but for some reason that was not done.
Some leaders say the entire community is affected, so it wants all $850 million repaid.
“It has hurt the surrounding area. The business community, the local municipality, county municipality. So, the county commissioners, the mayors, the city council people, the businesses that do business with West Virginia State University. They should all join with us in this chorus, requesting the governor and the legislature, to develop a plan to pay this money,” said Rev. Matt Watts, pastor of the Charleston Bible Church.
The governor and legislative leaders say they will look into the funding issue. They’ve also discussed the matter with the WV State president. But at this point, there is no precise funding promise, with the legislature scheduled to convene on Jan. 10.
The U.S. Secretaries of Education and Agriculture have offered to come to West Virginia to hold budget seminars on how federal aid to WVSU should be dispersed and matched. As far as we know, that invitation remains unaccepted.