Tallahassee, Florida - Rape crisis centers across Florida say they are scrambling now to find alternate funding after Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $1.5 million that had been set aside for them.
Scott's veto comes as the demand for services from rape crisis centers is increasing, according to Jennifer Dritt of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.
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Earlier this year the Florida Legislature set aside $1.5 million in extra funding for about 30 rape crisis centers in Florida. They receive most of their money from the federal government but also collect some cash from other sources, including the state's Rape Crisis Trust Fund. That fund is based on court fines from felony convictions and does not include tax dollars.
Dritt says more than one million adult women in Florida have been sexually assaulted and rape crisis centers are helping more than 30,000 new victims of sex abuse each year.
Dritt says the centers are understaffed and the vetoed money could have been used to hire more people to help address the increasing demand for services.
"Programs are scrambling to find money to make up for those cuts and I think they're going to be looking to their communities more to give donations and that's easier done in urban areas, much harder to do for those programs providing services in rural areas."
Gov. Scott believes the state already provides adequate funding for rape crisis centers and the vetoed money would have been extra. His office says state and federal spending on sexual assault prevention in Florida will increase from $7.2 million this year to $8.6 million next year.
"That money was in addition to what we're already doing. We've increased funding for domestic violence. We have money that goes into the rape crisis centers already, so it was additional money that we'd already funded."
Dritt says the Florida Coalition Against Sexual Violence is looking to next year and planning to provide more information to Gov. Scott about the need for rape crisis services in Florida.
"I believe that he didn't have the information that he needed, that the data is so compelling that no caring person can fail to act and I think he'll have many opportunities in the future to act on behalf of survivors and we'll continue to make the case."