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Corbett seeks to boost state funds to fight domestic violence

| Friday, March 29, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett made a pitch on Friday for a proposed increase in state spending to combat domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

Corbett's appearance with anti-domestic violence advocates continued a string of appearances across the state as he stumps for an ambitious $28.4 billion state budget plan that is being considered by lawmakers.

The $1.3 million boost to $13.8 million to fight domestic violence would bolster an overextended array of services from shelters for battered women to counseling and legal services, the Republican governor said at a news conference at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, which runs one of the state's 60 domestic violence programs.

“Just because it happens behind closed doors ... or because the victim and the assailant know each other doesn't make it acceptable. We all agree that it's not acceptable,” said Corbett, who was flanked by more than a dozen advocates for the programs.

Corbett's request would push spending for domestic violence services to nearly $14 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1 — a 10 percent increase that is three times the overall spending growth in his 2013-14 state budget plan. The programs had been given slightly less than $12.5 million two years ago, when Corbett took office.

The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence urged lawmakers to match the increase that Corbett proposed.

The governor's request “is a recognition of the need” for additional funding, coalition spokeswoman Judy Yupcavage said.

Corbett's budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would increase core state government spending by nearly 3 percent, including boosting support for public schools by $90 million, or about 1 percent. It seeks savings of $175 million in public employee pension contributions and business tax cuts of more than $330 million.

In 2012, 141 people were killed by domestic violence in Pennsylvania, according to the coalition. They included 110 victims and 31 perpetrators. Most of the deaths resulted from shootings.

Pennsylvania is among the top five states in the number of residents who call the national domestic violence hotline or the teen dating abuse hotline, said Peg J. Dierkers, the coalition's director.

A one-day survey of domestic violence programs sponsored by the National Network to End Domestic Violence on Sept. 12 revealed that Pennsylvania's programs helped 2,308 victims. About half required emergency shelters or transitional housing, and the others received nonresidential services such as counseling or legal services.

During the same 24-hour period, the programs turned away more than 900 requests for services because they lacked the resources, the national group said.

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