For immediate release:
Sept. 19, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) today issued the following statement on the controversy swirling around the Pence Administration’s treatment of domestic violence prevention programs across Indiana:
“At first glance, it seems insane that, during a time when public awareness of the horrors of domestic violence is at a peak, we would be discussing potential cuts in funding for programs designed to prevent those abuses and educate the public about them.
“Yet here we are, doing exactly that.
“Today’s meeting of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute proved to be a fine example of the time-honored tradition of politicians covering their back sides. We heard a lot of people from the administration say that they would never think of cutting funding for domestic violence prevention in Indiana.
“Except for the fact that they admitted that they did revert nearly $350,000 in funding set aside for that purpose last year.
“Remember that this governor and his administration are truly devoted to only one thing: keeping a $2 billion budget surplus. Nothing else is as important.
“Here’s how this game goes. When the administration asks agencies to submit proposals for the next biennial state budget, one of their first priorities is to set aside a fixed amount in ‘reserve.’ Based on past history, this ‘reserve’ has served only one purpose: being reverted back to the state’s general fund to keep our budget surplus high. As we saw today, even domestic violence prevention programs are not immune.
“So, we should be forgiven for not being completely satisfied when officials tell us today that they will not seek more than $160,000 in reversions over the next year.
“And I think it’s safe to be concerned that another $800,000 in additional funding might be at risk as well, since agencies can only receive those dollars through criteria that no one truly understands.
“Since this administration is so fond of numbers, let me provide a few:
“From July 2013 to June 2014, there were 67 homicides resulting from domestic violence in Indiana, an increase of nearly 20 percent from the previous year. In the same time frame, there were nearly 64,000 calls to the domestic violence hotline, an increase of more than 4,000 calls from the previous year. One in six Hoosier girls has been raped or sexually assaulted.
“For those who are fond of quoting rankings to show Indiana’s progress, here are a couple to recite. Indianapolis ranks among the top 20 cities in the country for domestic violence. Indiana has the third worst infant mortality rate in the nation.
“The problem is real in Indiana, just as it is across this country. If there is anything positive to be gained from the tragedy surrounding Ray Rice, it’s that the public is gradually becoming aware that this isn’t a new problem, and that the need for a solution remains as urgent as ever. During my years on the Hammond Police Department, I saw first-hand the damage domestic violence did to families.
“We still need to be legitimately worried that these programs will not get the funding they were promised. Another fine political tradition is to tell someone what they want to hear so they will go away…then wait a few months to go ahead and do what you want when no one is paying attention.
“My intention is to keep the governor’s feet to the fire and make sure his administration does what is right.
“I would ask the governor and his fiscal people to put down their bean counters for a moment and just think about lives that are being impacted here, and that there is more to running a state than simply keeping $2 billion in the bank.”