Florida Governor Rick Scott Cuts Funds For Rape Crisis Centers During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has proved yet again that he still hasn’t figured out the definition of irony as he chose to veto $1.5 million in funding for 30 rape crisis centers during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

A spokesperson for the guvenor said he vetoed the funding because the state already funds sexual violence programs, and no one was able to explain to him why rape crisis centers needed new funding.

“Governor Scott approved funding for many projects that have statewide impact and do not duplicate programs already funded by the state,” Lane Wright, Scott’s press secretary, told the Huffing Post.

“This new funding of $1.5 million would have been duplicative, since, as a state, we already fund sexual violence programs. There was no information suggesting any needs in this area weren’t already being met. The state already provides about $6.5 million for rape prevention and sexual assault services. That is in addition to the funds available for domestic violence programs — $29 million to be specific. Many victims of sexual violence seek refuge at domestic violence shelters.”

Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council, said she was “stunned” and “confused” by Scott’s decision and that she questions his reasoning behind the move.

“We say ‘here’s the need, here’s the need, here’s the need,’ and frankly, nobody’s paying any attention,” she 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.”

The $6.5 million that the government provides for rape prevention and sexual assault services is largely for education programs not crisis centers serving the victims.

“He’s probably including rape prevention and education money,” she said. “You think they would have asked us about that, and we could explain to them very clearly what money is available for our programs. It looks like $1.5 million is a lot of money to ask for, but frankly, when you spread it across 67 counties, it’s not.”

 

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