Gov. Tom Corbett intends to propose an additional $2.2 million in state aid for programs serving victims of rape and domestic abuse. The unusual preview of part of Corbett’s budget address comes nearly three weeks before he’s scheduled to outline his spending plan to the Legislature.
The 10 percent funding increase isn’t set in stone. Corbett said legislative leaders haven’t promised to keep it in the spending plan they’ll negotiate and send to his desk. The budget is due at the end of June.
Domestic violence and rape-crisis programs received a 10 percent increase in the budget signed by Corbett last summer. The previous two budgets enacted under Corbett flat-funded the programs.
Peg Dierkers, head of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said that even with last year’s 10 percent funding increase, programs to help victims were unable to accommodate 5,000 women. Dierkers expects demand for services to increase because of recently signed child protection laws. She said they have increased expectations and liabilities for parents trying to stop their spouses from abusing a child.
For Corbett, previewing any part of his budget address is a rare move. “You know I don’t normally scoop myself,” he said Wednesday.
When asked why he decided to share part of his proposal, he said, “You know, you evolve as governor.”
He added that talking about the proposed funding increase now can help a public awareness campaign being launched by advocates for the victims of rape and domestic abuse.
But recent polls also show Corbett’s job approval ratings considerably lower among women than men.
In October, a Franklin & Marshall University poll found 16 percent of surveyed women gave him a favorable job rating, compared with 24 percent of surveyed men. A December Quinnipiac poll showed a positive rating from 31 percent of women respondents, and 42 percent of surveyed men.