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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Domestic violence budget cuts assailed"

Niki Kelly reports today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, clarifying a dispute that arose yesterday. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence is crying foul over cuts in funding to shelters and victims implemented by Gov. Mike Pence’s administration. * * *

“I want everything that is due to the program,” said Laura Berry, executive director of the coalition. “Our demand for services is off the charts, and we are in critical need.”

She added that the last two years the coalition has had to fight with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to get all the money that is appropriated to it.

The institute is the state agency that oversees and distributes the funding through grants.

“This is the wrong time to be on the wrong side of this issue,” Berry said.

But the anti-domestic violence advocates and the Pence administration offered radically different budget data.

“The media is being fed inaccurate information,” Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks said. “Gov. Pence did not order cuts to the domestic violence fund for reversions or any other purpose.”

Later, though, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute spokesman Gary Abel did confirm that $344,000 of funding for the domestic violence prevention and treatment program was reverted to aid the state’s bottom line at the end of fiscal year 2014 in June.

All agencies were told by Pence’s Indiana Office of Management and Budget to revert money – or not spend everything appropriated.

In fact, for the recently ended fiscal year, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reverted more than $500,000 of its funding, or 8 percent of its appropriation. That means the majority of that money came from the domestic violence program.

Abel said the money was reverted because there was no plan submitted on how to use it. He said the agency is working with the groups this year to avoid a recurrence.

Berry said more money is slated to be reverted this year – about $160,000. And overall more than $1 million is being held back pending further information.

Berry is especially upset because she and other groups lobbied legislators in 2013 for additional money and $700,000 was added annually to the current two-year budget. But she said Pence hasn’t let them spend it all.

The issue will come to a head Friday when the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Board of Trustees – all appointed by Pence – reviews the latest program grants.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 18, 2014 11:23 AM
Posted to Indiana Government