Governor Vetoes Domestic Violence Shelter Funding

October 2, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Thursday night veto of legislation that would help fund domestic violence prevention programs has vexed a state senator and worried shelter providers statewide.

The bill, SB 662, would have given counties throughout California the option of increasing by up to $10 a portion of marriage license fees that funds services for victims of domestic violence, according to Adam Keigwin, a spokesman for Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, who authored the bill.

The rejection of the shelter funding comes at a time when financial pressures are leading to increased calls for help at all national violence prevention agencies, according to Camille Hayes, a spokeswoman for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

Economic recessions are proven to exacerbate violent relationships, Hayes said, possibly causing verbal or psychological abusers to advance to physical violence, and landing people already in physically abusive partnerships in emergency rooms with major injuries.

When shelters are not an option, “individuals far too often go back to their abuser, and that’s when even greater tragedies happen for them and their children. That’s just the brutal reality of this veto,” Keigwin said.

The only provision for shelter funding in the current, stalled state budget talks is a request that $20.4 million be allocated to violence prevention agencies by the California Emergency Management Agency, Hayes said. That request is at risk for the same line-item veto that left shelters in crisis in 2009, she said.

Schwarzenegger explained in a statement that part of the reason he vetoed the bill Thursday was a lack of reporting requirements and a sunset date on the marriage fee increases.

He said the “large blanket authorization for all counties” for fee increases would make the success of the bill difficult to determine.

“The Legislature has failed to provide a well thought out plan to fund domestic violence shelters,” Schwarzenegger said. “Until a budget is adopted and the appropriate level of domestic violence funding is determined, this bill is premature.”

Keigwin said Yee would not let Thursday’s rejection slow him down.

“He absolutely won’t vote for a budget that does not have this funding,” Keigwin said. “He’ll do everything he can to continue to fight for those funds. Unfortunately, that may take us getting a new governor.”