Haley's vetoes slash rape crisis center budget

Governor Nikki Haley
Governor Nikki Haley

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As state legislators work on which of Gov. Nikki Haley's vetoes to try and overturn, state workers on the receiving end of those vetoes are trying to figure out what to do next.

The 81 vetoes make cuts to state agencies like the Arts Commission to the Department of Social Services. Haley calls the cuts "pork" and a waste of tax dollars.

One of those cuts is a half-million dollars to the state's rape crisis centers staffed by the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

"Really, it means programs will be scrambling to try to find someway to keep the doors open," SCCADVSA executive director Pam Jacobs said.

Jacobs' work started after Haley announced the veto.

"Fear. Shock that the governor would say that this is not a public health issue and it distracts from DHEC's mission. We were all very alarmed to hear that," Jacobs said.

The money goes to help rape victims move through the legal system so they don't have to do it alone.

"Being raped is traumatic enough, but having to navigate that system, going to court by yourself, going to the hospital for a really intrusive and painful exam by yourself is horrific. Unfortunately, that's the solution rape victims may be in if this veto is not overridden," Jacobs said.

"This is not the way we govern," Haley said. "This is not the way tax payers intended their money to be spent."

In a letter to explain the veto, Haley said the services only affect "a small portion of South Carolina's chronically ill or abused". Haley continued, saying the spending "distracts from the agency's broader mission of protecting South Carolina's public health."

That's the same problem Haley says she found when she vetoed this entire list of earmarks.

"The problem is it's like when you give something to a child. They're always going to figure out how they can get away with a little more," Haley said.

The problem with rape is growing in South Carolina. FBI stats show in 2011, Charleston saw forcible rapes climb 67 percent. That's proof, rape advocates say, that shows a need to continue their work before the have to close their doors to victims.

"I'm concerned about the message that sends to victims that our leaders don't really care about what happens to them," Jacobs said.

There's still a chance law makers could restore the half million in rape crisis spending as well as the 80 other spending requests the governor vetoed. The House meets in one week to work to overturn Haley's vetoes.

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