New push to bring funding back to the state's shelters

October 5, 2009 7:27:33 PM PDT
Victims and shelter workers kicked off domestic violence awareness month by urging leaders to restore state funding to their programs.Because lawmakers sent Governor Schwarzenegger a budget this past summer that was unbalanced by nearly a billion dollars, he used his veto authority to slash numerous services, including $16 million from domestic violence shelters across California.

St. Sen. Ellen Corbett, (D) San Leandro said: "With just a stroke of his pen, the Governor reversed 15 years worth of work and progress for women escaping violent environments."

Former Mrs. California, Tracie Stafford, remembers what it was like 15 years ago when services were scarce ... She doesn't want today's women to experience that.

Tracie Stafford, Domestic Violence Survivor said: "My ex punched me in the mouth in front of 30-40 people. Not one person stopped. I was eight months pregnant! That was a signal to me that this was normal, acceptable behavior."

Without state funding, this Sacramento shelter had to cut its hotline staff to one, which means callers have to wait longer for help. Six shelters in California have already had to shut down, leaving little options for abused women.

Niko Johnson, Shelter Director said: "In fact, a number of them have probably returned to their abusive relationship."

But the administration says with tax receipts way down, every corner of state government is going to have to share in the pain.

Aaron McLear, Governor's Press Secretary said: "If we can find ways in which to restore this program, we absolutely would love to do so. But unfortunately, the Governor can only spend the money we have and at this point, it was a difficult decision he had to make."

If the Governor calls a special session, Democrats are ready with a proposal to loan $16,000,000 dollars from a fund, that's supposed to help the development of alternative energy vehicles. If the special session doesn't happen, the proposal will have to wait until January

Several of the Valley's shelters are being affected by the governor's cuts, with three completely shutting down.

The Martha Diaz shelter in Madera had to shut down after losing more than $200,000 dollars in state funding.

It served about 100 women and children last year. Also "Mountain Crisis Services" in Merced had to close down two of three of its emergency shelters.

In Fresno, the Marjaree Mason Center is looking for other funding sources after facing a 50% cut in its emergency shelter budget.

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