Published July 29, 2009 by Victorville Daily Press

CA Domestic violence programs 'wiped out'

Governor uses veto power to slash social services

by Natasha Lindstrom

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VICTORVILLE • The Victor Valley’s only domestic violence shelters and state-funded substance abuse program are looking to lay off workers and drastically scale back services after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his veto power to raid up to 40 percent of their budgets.

“He wiped us out,” said Margaret Diaz, executive director of A Better Way Victor Valley domestic violence program in Victorville. “Now instead of giving women a helping hand, it’s going to be a handout when they come into our shelter. Now, we’re going to be a Band-Aid on a large cut.”

When the Legislature’s deal to close a roughly $24 billion budget gap landed on his desk, Schwarzenegger made an additional $489 million in line-item cuts primarily from social services, including elimating state funds for domestic violence programs.

For Diaz and Darryl Evey, executive director of the 25-year-old High Desert Domestic Violence Program, the governor’s move eliminated about40 percent of theirbudgets.

“The governor has decided we don’t need domestic violence shelters in the state of California,” said Evey, whose Victorville shelter is losing $207,000 on top of a $43,000 state cut last year.

Both directors said the cuts will revert their programs back to a bare-boned service, providing emergency housing and helping with restraining orders but nothing left to counsel the women and keep them from going back to abusiverelationships.

St. John of God Health Care Services, which serves the needy and recovering drug addicts in Victorville, may lay off workers after losing about 20 percent of its budget because of state cuts, said Debbie Proper, interim administrator.

Proper estimates the center will lose about $100,000 from its drug and alcohol program and another $50,000 state grant that helped fill a food pantry and offer emergency-assistance services.

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