Cage ready to accomplish legislative goals as session continues

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As state lawmakers begin the second week of this year’s regular legislative session, West Virginia State University Interim President Ericke Cage is ready to push policies to improve his institution and its services.

Cage said last week on “580 Live” he gets excited about legislative sessions; he previously was a federal lobbyist.

“I really value the legislative process, value relationships,” he said.

Cage said he has three priorities of the 60-day period: a 100% match from the state of federal land-grant funding, permanent funding for the Healthy Grandfamilies program and changing the state funding formula.

Cage said matching federal funding would provide the institution with more opportunities to better serve West Virginians.

“We provide programs in the areas of agriculture, economic development, health and 4H across the state of West Virginia,” he said.

The university offers the Health Grandfamilies program as a resource to grandparents raising their grandchildren. Representatives in multiple counties offer assistance, including help with legal issues, accessing food and clothing, and school enrollment.

“We’re asking the Legislature for permanent funding of that program,” Cage said. “That program is currently funded in a way that we have to go back to the Legislature each year and ask for support. We believe, given the significant impact that we’re having across the state, that now is the time for the Legislature to provide us with permanent funding so that we can expand our programming so that we can have some certainty when it comes to planning the future of that program.”

Cage also wants the Legislature to support changing the funding formula for West Virginia’s higher education institutions. The state Higher Education Policy Commission will introduce the policy.

Cage criticized the current formula, arguing funding is not determined by the progress institutions make year-to-year.

“If it is passed, it will be the first time in the history of the state in which we’ve had a vehicle that will provide predictable funding for institutions,” he said. “It would allow us to be able to have certainty when it comes to planning. It will help incentivize excellence in education outcomes. It would help to support public accountability.”

The regular legislative session goes through March 12.