California’s domestic violence program will be spared from elimination this year with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expected to sign legislation Wednesday to restore $16.3 million to shelters and centers across the state.
The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, will restore funds to 94 domestic violence shelters and centers that offer emergency shelters, around-the-clock crisis hot lines, legal assistance and other support services that protect victims.
Yee introduced the legislation after Schwarzenegger used a line-item veto to cut $20.4 million in funding from the state’s Domestic Violence Program in July.
The legislation will restore about $200,000 in funding to San Jose-based Asian Americans for Community Involvement, a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy, education, health and human service programs for Asian Pacific Americans. CEO and president Michele Lew said the funds translate to 21 percent of the organization’s annual budget for domestic violence programs.
“We’re very excited that the governor has announced his intention to sign legislation to restore funding for domestic violence shelters,” Lew said. “It’s great news especially because we’re seeing a 30 percent increase in calls to our 24-hour hot line in the last year.”
In a statement, Yee said funding for domestic violence programs should continue for as long as the problem of domestic violence persists.
“While I am pleased that the governor will finally help restore this funding, I am still dismayed that he would put women and children at risk in the first place,” Yee said. “It is unacceptable to force victims into a choice between homelessness and returning to their abuser.”
A spokesman with the governor’s office, who confirmed Schwarzenegger will sign the bill into law Wednesday, said the governor did not propose the cut. The governor resorted to the line-item budget veto after the Legislature passed down an unbalanced budget, spokesman Aaron McLear said.
“We had to make vetoes unilaterally,” McLear stated. “This is one of those vetoes because the Legislature failed to do their job. But since we made that cut, the governor has said he wants to find a way to restore that funding.”
The bill will reallocate the $16.3 million from the state’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund, to be repaid from the state’s General Fund within three years.
McLear called the legislation “a temporary fix.”
“It’s one-time money,” McLear said. “The governor believes the Legislature must find a permanent funding source for this program.”
In agreement, Lew said, “While we’re excited, it is only a temporary fix, so we’ll be continuing to work with other domestic violence agencies and the Legislature to identify a permanent source of shelter funding for the future.”
Yee said he would continue his efforts to ensure the protection of shelters.
“Failure to save our domestic violence shelters will only result in increased health care, law enforcement and other costs to the state,” Yee said. “But more critically, it will put victims of domestic violence and their children in grave danger.”