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Questions Loom About State Funding For Domestic Violence Programs

Noah Coffey

Advocates for victims of domestic violence say the state will consider cutting money to programs for those victims. The state agency in charge of the money says it isn‘t true.

Earlier this week, some agencies who help victims of domestic violence were urged to attend Friday‘s scheduled meeting of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute‘s board, which is appointed by Governor Pence. An email sent to the agencies said the board would vote on a recommendation to cut $1 million from the level of funding for domestic violence programs that was recommended by the Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Council. "They recommend the additional money go out to programs because of the critical need," said Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

But that would not be a cut from what was actually spent on domestic violence programs last year by the Institute, according to its spokesman, Gary Abell. "The Victims Services Subcommittee voted on Tuesday to fund at the same exact level as 2013 for all the domestic violence shelters across the state," Abell said, saying the amount was just under $2.1 million. Abell says additional money could also be available, $826,840 that would be available. What the shelters would need to do is provide details on how they would use those additional funds."

While Abell characterized this as level funding from 2013, Berry claims that‘s a deception. She says $3.5 million was actually given to the Institute for domestic violence programs by the General Assembly in the state‘s budget, "and they last year did not give out all the money that was available." Some, Berry said, went back to the General Fund, while about $400,000 was later distributed as a special one-time project grant.

Berry also says the Institute should already have plans on how shelters would spend the money, as she says that was provided by the Prevention and Treatment Council. Abell says the Institute has not received those plans and said he wasn‘t sure where Berry and others were getting the idea that $3.5 million was available to be spent last year, much less for 2014. "I don‘t know where that $1 million (in alleged cuts) is coming from. I don‘t know," Abell said.

Governor Pence‘s office was adamant in saying the governor had not proposed reducing domestic violence funding. "It‘s total fabrication that Governor Pence is proposing or considering cuts to the domestic violence fund," said Kara Brooks, Pence‘s press secretary.

The board of the Criminal Justice Institute meets at noon on Friday.

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