Now that Emilio has filled you in on what on earth a budget is, let’s talk about a specific example of how cutting a budget can impact people. Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has vetoed over 80 items in the 2012-2013 state budget. Along with cutting money for education and the arts, Gov. Haley wants to cut $453,680 for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Her reason: “Each of these lines attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement, but nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”
Gov. Haley is terribly misinformed. Sexual assault and domestic violence impact far more than a “small portion” of South Carolina. The South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson states that “domestic violence has become a crisis” in the state. South Carolina ranks 7th in the nation for the amount of homicides due to domestic violence. These programs work on violence prevention and response, and for some, these services mean the difference between life and death. Funding these programs protects the health of South Carolinians and is not a “distraction” from public health because cutting these services harms the whole population, since everyone knows somebody who has been impacted by violence. Sexual and domestic violence are serious public health epidemics in South Carolina and cutting 37% of funding to rape crisis centers is obviously harmful to the general public health. The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault has called for people to contact their legislators asking them to override the veto and show Gov. Haley that she should not cut funding to these vital programs. Whenever you disagree with a policy, it is super important to make your voice heard—in this case, it could mean protecting the lives of thousands.