Indiana Gov. Pence Plays Shell Game with Domestic Violence Funding

[Originally published at Indy Vanguard on September 25, 2014]

Since Indiana’s Governor Pence repeatedly highlights his pro-life beliefs and priority to the family unit, it’s understandable his 12 appointees to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) would be addressing the rise in domestic violence along with the rest of the country. Calls to shelters in Indiana have increased dramatically: one shelter has turned away 79 individuals in the past three months. In 2013, 58 people were murdered in Domestic Violence incidents; various Indiana DV agencies and over 60,000 called crisis lines served over 30,000 individuals.

So Monday morning’s tweet by Governor Pence was taken as good news by most media and the rest of the world: 

Except it’s all spin… or bull. And media outlets are headlining this “extra” funding.

Yet as posted by Indy Feminists: 

The catalyst came last week when the ICJI announced they were withholding $1.2 million of the amount approved by the General Assembly for Domestic Violence programs. David Hall of the ICJI wants more “appropriate reporting”. Advocates were outraged and Pence announced via twitter that he wasn’t withholding funds.

Not accurate. In fact, the State already took back over $300,000 approved for programs from last year to save money. Yes—the same year when over 600 people were turned away from residential shelters due to no room. Fiscal conservative, pro-family Pence saved some money by taking it away from domestic violence victims and their families. Appropriate reporting would entail revealing why that money was taken back. To date the ICJI has no answer and is looking in to it.

Also, the ICJI’s claim that the submitted budget from DV agencies isn’t adequate is insulting. Many of these agencies received grant funding using the same budgets that have been scrutinized and approved by the state and the grantors. What else is needed?

Looking at Domestic Violence – it is driven by misplacement of emotions – power, fear, anger, etc. Politics also invokes this misuse of emotions. Victims hear the words of support and promises from the Governor and his appointed board, but actions speak louder and slam doors in their faces. So Pence’s promise of new money pouring in sounds good. But this promise is as insidious as the ones perpetrators give when rationalizing their actions; Pence has managed to shift the focus back to him.

Truth is there are no added funds or new money immediately available. The $740,426 of “additional” funds includes the $344,000 never allocated last year and mysteriously returned, along with another $448,000 of already allocated funding.

The General Assembly approved the $4.2 million, which is an increase to match a need. Then the ICJI board (comprised of mostly Pence appointees) decides not to release the funds. Then the Governor overrules them and wants the money expedited. And they give back the reverted funds without an explanation as to why it was taken away to begin with.

So in essence, the Governor is letting the General Assembly do their job, minus the input of a board of his appointees. But he wants the credit.

And that is nothing new–just like this “new” money.

Rev. Marie Siroky is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving as a Chaplain in Northwest Indiana. As a former nun who taught in the inner-city of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Marie self defines as having a “Catholic Spine” and is fiercely protective of religious freedoms for all as well as addressing injustice in every form. (including Cubs fans). She is past president of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), a multi-faith organization of faith communities and leaders advocating for LGBT equality and justice in Indiana for over 15 years. She currently serves on the Advisory board for Indy Feminists, and serves on the board of UCAN ( the United Church of Christ’s HIV/AIDS network). She and her wife have been together over 23 years, married in Iowa in 2009, and are current members of Trinity United Church of Christ in her hometown of Gary, IN.

Follow Rev. Marie Siroky on Twitter: @GaryMillrat

Rev. Marie Siroky is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving as a Chaplain in Northwest Indiana. A former nun who taught in the inner-city of Philadelphia, Marie self defines as having a “Catholic Spine” and is fiercely protective of religious freedoms for all as well as addressing injustice in every form (including Cubs fans). She is past president of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON) advocating for LGBT justice in Indiana for over 15 years. She currently serves on the board of UCAN (the United Church of Christ’s HIV/AIDS network). She and her wife have been together over 24 years, married in Iowa in 2009, and are current members of Trinity United Church of Christ in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. Follow Rev. Marie Siroky on Twitter: @GaryMillrat. You can also find her writing at http://garymillrat.com.

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