Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed $1.5 million in funding for the state’s rape crisis centers this week. Scott’s decision will affect 30 rape crisis centers across 67 counties in Florida. Scott’s press secretary told the Huffington Post that the governor vetoed the legislation because”this new funding of $1.5 million would have been duplicative, since, as a state, we already fund sexual violence programs.” The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence disputed this claim, saying the funding Scott was referring to goes to educational programs, not victims services.
Executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, Jennifer Dritt, said “We gave them information about the number of new survivors we have and we showed them that these rape crisis centers have waiting lists. Survivors are having to wait weeks, sometimes six weeks, in some programs three months to be seen. We included quotes from the programs about the waiting lists and what services they weren’t able to offer because of a lack of money. There is clearly an unmet need.”
Scott’s veto is viewed as particularly shocking because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The United States Senate is also due to vote on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act this week, which provides funding to state and local governments for responding to sexual assault, as well as domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
White House Blog 4/25/12; ThinkProgress 4/24/12; Huffington Post 4/23/12