Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Public Policy Action

Funding

FUNDING FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES

PROBLEM

Domestic violence programs are experiencing a severe funding shortfall due to stagnant public funding and skyrocketing operating costs. Just a few years ago, on average programs received about half of their funding through the federal and state sources distributed through PCADV. Now, the level of state and federal funding has declined to below one third, leaving programs to raise two-thirds of their annual budgets at the local level. The consequence of this lack of funding has been that programs all across the state have cut staff, eliminated programs such as children’s advocacy and community education, created waiting lists for services, and otherwise reduced services to victims and communities.

Every year, in addition to our work on policy priority areas, PCADV devotes substantial time and resources to advocating for increased government funding at both the state and federal levels. Our lobbying efforts include annual campaigns to increase the state budget line item for domestic violence services and/or to fend off proposed cuts to this and other relevant budget line items. We also lobby each year for federal funding, including increased appropriations for VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA.

Domestic violence programs in PA also receive revenue from a second source: the $10 marriage license surcharge. Because the existing $10 fee has never been raised since it was established in 1990, PCADV has pursued legislation to raise it from $10 to $35 per license, and to establish a parallel fee on divorce filings. That legislation almost passed in 2009 but the fees for domestic violence services were removed without debate at the very end of the legislative process.

PROGRESS

  • In FY 2007-08, the state budget line item for domestic violence services was increased $753,000, comprising a three percent COLA (totaling $353,000) and an additional $400,000. While this increase was indeed an accomplishment worth noting, unfortunately it was offset by the loss of $425,000 in federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) funds.
  • In the Spring of 2008, PCADV conducted a series of three regional meetings to build programs’ local lobbying capacity and coordinate our budget lobbying strategy for FY 2008-09.
  • Despite repeated proposals and threats to cut funding through the recession, PCADV has been able to maintain relatively level state and federal funding for services.
  • After several months of targeted advocacy and trips to DC, in 2010 the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) was reauthorized.

2012 ACTION STEPS ON FUNDING

  • Continue legislative advocacy for increases in the state budget line item for domestic violence services, as well as other line items that support domestic violence victims and programs;
  • Continue lobbying for enactment of legislation to raise dedicated revenue via an increased surcharge on marriage licenses and new divorce filing fee;
  • Continue advocacy with NNEDV on a coordinated lobbying campaign to aggressively advocate for full or increased funding for VAWA, FVPSA, and VOCA.
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