The Domestic Violence Center of the SCV will once again be able to provide a full slate of counseling services and programs discontinued because of budget woes will probably be restored, thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 13xxx today by the California State Senate.
The move granted approval for the state’s Domestic Violence Program to take a $16.3 million loan from the Alternative and Renewal Fuel and Vehicle Technology Fund.
The bill, strongly advocated for by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, provides local domestic violence shelters with the vital funds to continue providing services to the community. The Legislature had allocated $16.3 million for the program, but it was eliminated completely by the Governor as one of his line-item vetoes in late July.
“The Domestic Violence center of the SCV is absolutely thrilled that this legislation unanimously passed the Senate and we look forward to the Governor signing it soon,” said Gail Ortiz, Vice President of the centers board of directors.
“Providing necessary domestic violence services to the 200-square mile Santa Clarita Valley is important and this legislation allows the Center to continue providing services like counseling services, the 24-hour crisis hotline and our 24-hour shelter home.
“The Board of directors of the Domestic Violence Center gratefully acknowledges the work of Senators George Runner and Tony Strickland and notably, Assemblyman Cameron Smyth for their tireless efforts on this legislation,” she concluded.
The Assembly passed SB 13xxx at the end of session in September, but it was one of several bills that failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate. The Senate reconvened in special session today to address federal education grants, but also took up several of the items that failed to pass in September.
“Today is a great day for the future of domestic violence programs and shelters throughout California,” said Smyth. “Passing this legislation ensures that these shelters will continue providing critical services to victims of domestic violence. This is truly the highlight of our legislative year.”
The Domestic Violence Program funds allow local agencies to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and legal advocacy, as well as assistance with restraining orders, counseling and other vital support services.
“I’m glad that the Senate stepped up and did what was necessary,” said Smyth. “Eliminating these programs was shortsighted because it ultimately results in additional health care and law enforcement costs to the state. This is a creative solution that requires no new money, yet still ensures services will be available for those who need them most.”
SB 13xxx will now be sent to Governor Schwarzenegger for his signature.
The budget cuts resulted in a loss of $200,000 in support for the local center, forcing the group to lay off staff members and cut programming, including several counselors. The business office was also moved from its familiar Newhall Avenue location where it had been for several years to smaller office space in the Valencia Industrial Center, where they are working comfortably, but hope to expand when budget issues improve.
“We’re still evaluating,” she said. “We don’t have the money until the Governor signs the bill. We hope to bring back some of the staff who provided counseling, because that is so important.”
She emphasized that, despite the financial challenges, the DVC always maintained its hotline (259-8175) and emergency shelter.