Romine: W.Va. Legislature Has To Keep Its ‘Promise’ to Students

Photo by Perry Bennett, W.Va. Legislature West Virginia Delegate William “Roger” Romine, R-Tyler, reviews documents during a House of Delegates floor session earlier this year.

WHEELING — Delegate William “Roger” Romine says the West Virginia Legislature “promised” the state’s school children for 15 years that if they worked hard and succeeded in school, they would be awarded scholarships to in-state colleges and universities.

Now the Legislature must keep that promise and not allow funding to the state PROMISE scholarships to dwindle, according to Romine, R-Tyler, who announced he won’t run for re-election in 2018. The first PROMISE scholarships were awarded in 2002, a year after Romine took office.

Romine serves on the education and energy committees in the House.

“When it comes to the PROMISE Scholarship , the Legislature has a tendency to nibble away at it,” he said. “But we made a promise that if a student did everything they should the money would be there for them for college.”

The Legislature already has made requirements for the scholarship more strict, now requiring students to have a 3.0 grade point average and a score of at least 22 on the ACT, according to Romine. If students take the SAT test, they must achieve a score of 1100.

The maximum amount was initially set at $4,700, and has not been increased.

“Tuition keeps going up, but the amount of the PROMISE scholarship doesn’t go up,” Romine said. “Now they are talking about making it income-based. I don’t agree. We made a promise to our kids … and I think we should keep it.”

Romine expects the Legislature to take action on the issue of educational savings accounts, as well as allowing home-schooled children to participate in public school extracurricular activities, such as band. Lawmakers approved a bill to allow home-schooled to march with the local high school band or play on its sports teams this year, but Gov. Jim Justice vetoed it.

Romine has served in the Legislature since 2001. He turns 74 in January, and said rather than seek another term he wants to travel and spend more time with his children and grandchildren, who live outside the area.

“The Legislature probably needs younger people with more energy,” he said. “It really is a great process. We fight and fuss, but it’s still the best process ever designed for governing.”

Romine’s departure comes after spending much of his tenure in the Legislature as a member of the minority party. West Virginia Republicans gained majority in both the House and Senate after the 2014 election.

He said he was surprised to see the GOP take over leadership of the Legislature.

“I never did think we would,” he said. “When I went in in 2001, I never thought we would gain control. When we got 64 seats (in the 100-member House of Delegates), I was almost in shock.”