South Carolina lawmakers reverse course, restore domestic violence funds to budget
In an abrupt reversal, state House members have voted to restore hundreds of thousands of dollars to help domestic violence victims, avoiding a drastic cutback in funding for shelters and other front-line programs.
The House voted unanimously this morning to restore $500,000 of the $800,000 in domestic violence funds slashed from an early draft of the budget this month. The proposed spending bill now goes to the Senate, where supporters hope to win support for the remainder of the lost funding to be restored.
“We really feel deep appreciation for the legislators who led this effort to get this funding restored,” said Sara Barber, executive director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “I think people realized the gravity of the need to continue support for these types of services in our state.”
The move to restore the money came just days after The Post and Courier ran an article about the funding cut and how it would impact battered women and children in their time of greatest need.
In the article, Barber and others lamented the potential setback given the progress the state has made since significant domestic violence reforms were enacted in 2015. Those changes were adopted in the wake of The Post and Courier’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Till death do us part,” which chronicled South Carolina’s ignominious status as the nation’s deadliest state for women at the hands of men.
Barber said specifics were still being worked out, but the $500,000 would be used to “build capacity for providing emergency housing services for victims of domestic violence and their children.”
Her group had received similar appropriations for the past two years to distribute to programs. Last year, those funds paid for domestic violence prevention efforts, a new roof for a shelter and nonprofit programs that provide direct help to help victims.
State lawmakers initially said they didn’t have the money for such efforts this year because they were scrambling to pay for ongoing costs related to Hurricane Matthew and find $162 million to shore up the ailing state pension fund.
That shift in priorities came less than three months after a Republican state lawmaker was accused of brutally beating and attacking his wife during Christmastime. Chris Corley, a 36-year-old Graniteville Republican, faces a charge of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature for allegedly beating his wife in front of their children, then threatening to kill her and himself. He has since resigned his seat.