Assemblyman Smyth to co-author emergency legislation.
California State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth held a press conference today announcing his plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to restore funding for domestic violence programs statewide. All state funding for such programs was recently cut as one of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's line-item vetoes during the budget crisis.
The legislation, by Senator Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, will shift $16.3 million from the Victim's Compensation Fund to the Department of Public Health's Domestic Violence Program. This will replace, on a one-time basis, the exact amount that had been cut through the veto. The Victim's Compensation Fund's current balance is $136.2 million.
The legislation will be introduced first in the State Senate under an urgency measure, and Assemblyman Smyth is optimistic about its approval.
"It's important that we continue to fund Domestic Violence programs because they provide critical services to victims of domestic abuse, and often is the only thing keeping them from returning to their abuser," said Smyth. "Eliminating these programs is short-sighted because it ultimately results in additional health care and law enforcement costs to the state. This proposed legislation is a creative solution that requires no new money, yet allows services to still be provided to those who need them most."
Nicole Shellcroft, executive director of the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita Valley, says a 50 percent reduction in funding for domestic violence programs can mean more than a 50 percent reduction in services. If the legislation is passed, it will allow the Santa Clarita Center and others like it across the state to continue to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, legal advocacy, counseling, and other support.
At the press conference, City Councilman Bob Kellar cited the three domestic violence deaths recorded in the Santa Clarita Valley this year. Assemblyman Smyth says this and other recent news "further demonstrates the need even here in Santa Clarita, which remains one of the safest communities in the country, yet you still see cases of domestic violence."
This announcement comes on the heels of the murder of an 18-year-old woman at a Canyon Country mobile home park. Her boyfriend is currently in custody, suspected of the crime.