New Bill Returns Funding to Domestic Violence Shelters

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A bill signed yesterday by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will restore $16.3 million to domestic violence shelters throughout California.

While historically the general fund of the state budget supports the statewide domestic violence shelters, the legislation meant to allocate $20.4 million was line-item vetoed in July by the governor in light of the state budget deficit.

With the new legislation, the shelters will receive 80 percent of what state legislators previously allocated in the state budget through the California Emergency Management Agency, said Adam Keigwin, Chief of Staff to Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo.

Proposed by Yee, the bill will fund 94 shelters around the state with funds transferred from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund.

According to Keigwin, this fund has surplus money that is not immediately needed. The money will be repaid to the vehicle fund in 2013.

"We're borrowing this money and the general fund will pay it back within three years," he said. "In the short term, there will be no impact on the state budget."

Hayward-based Emergency Shelter Program, which expects to receive roughly $166,000 from the legislation, plans to restore three full-time positions that were cut after the state budget was finalized. The funds will also support general operations such as communications, utilities and insurance, said the shelter's executive director Ralph Johnson.

"We didn't get to the point where we either have to stop accepting clients or close down some beds," he said. "I mean, that was going to be the next step if we don't receive this funding back. We certainly would serve (a) much less number of women and children because of that because we just won't be able to sustain the staffing."

According to Keigwin, state officials are looking into a bill for next year that would allocate money from driver's licenses and victim compensation funds to support domestic violence programs.

Keigwin said finding money for the shelters eventually lowers the cost of health care and law enforcement because the shelters provide safety.

"This is also a life and death situation," Keigwin said. "These programs could save lives, and it's unconscionable that anyone would want to get rid of it."


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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