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Corbett would give $2.2 million more to rape crisis and domestic violence programs

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 12:36 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett said on Wednesday his budget proposal next month will recommend a 10 percent funding increase for rape service centers and domestic violence programs.

Domestic violence programs would increase from $13.9 million to $15.3 million, Corbett said. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, which distributes money among 50 rape crisis centers statewide, would get an $800,000 increase to more than $8.7 million, he said at a news conference.

Shirl Regan didn't hesitate when asked what an increase would mean for the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh in the city's East End.

“It'll help me not lay anyone off,” said Regan, the president & CEO. State money pays for a 24-hour, seven-day a week hotline and a temporary emergency shelter for victims and children.

“It helps get them out of dangerous situations,” Regan said.

The hotline and shelter helped approximately 7,000 victims last year. About 6 percent are men, she said.

“Protecting our citizens and helping them in times of need is one of the core functions of government,” Corbett, a Republican from Shaler, said. “I am proposing we continue our commitment to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, and provide support services for victims, through a $2.2 million funding increase to these critical programs next year.”

Corbett is scheduled to present his budget to the General Assembly on Feb. 4. The House and Senate must approve a spending plan by June 30.

Asked how rape and domestic violence programs fared in recent tight budget years, Corbett said there were no increases in 2011-12 and 2012-13 but a 10 percent increase in the 2013-14 budget that lawmakers approved in June.

Corbett, who took office in January 2011, is seeking re-election in November.

“This indispensable funding will assist those who have experienced domestic violence and help them to survive, recover, and resume their lives,” said Peg Dierkers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She said the governor's support is commendable.

In 2012, 110 victims in Pennsylvania died from domestic violence, said Corbett, and data show one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted before age 18. The statistics are the most recent available.

Pennsylvania Victims Advocate Jennifer Storm said Corbett “understands the importance of ensuring that we meet the needs of crime victims” and try to prevent such crimes.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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