State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach, released a statement today expressing “deep disappointment in Governor Scott’s decision to veto $1.5 million in funding for the 30 certified rape crisis centers serviced by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.”

As I reported yesterday, Scott included the Florida Council’s funding in the state budget in his long list of line-item vetoes this year. He happened to veto the funding right in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The organization was going to use that funding to give grants to 30 rape crisis centers as they face impending reductions in collections, which currently makes up the bulk of their budgets.

According to a press release from Berman:

For more than a decade, the state has helped fund these centers. Victims of this horrible and violent crime need help immediately; not providing critical counseling and follow-up medical care services would be a failure on the state’s part.

April is designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month and according to the latest Center for Disease Control report in November 2011, one in six women in Florida has been a victim of rape or sexual assault. Rape crisis centers are an important component to serving women in our communities. FCASV centers have served over 40,000 women of all races, ages and backgrounds, including ongoing victims. While other funding supports FCASV and similar organizations throughout the state, collections of fines on certain sex offenders have been down and continue to decrease, exhibiting the greater need for the state to step in. In Palm Beach County, Governor Scott’s veto will mean a $62,000 loss to the certified rape crisis center in our community.

Berman said in a statement that “women who have been through a traumatic event are already suffering enough on a multitude of levels.”

“As caretakers of our state budget,” she said, “legislators have an obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens. Failing to ensure victims of rape are afforded appropriate counseling and needed support simply highlights the Governor’s lack of understanding.”

Scott’s office recently said that the governor eliminated the funding because it was “duplicative” and that “nobody was able to make it clear to [the governor] why rape crisis centers needed the new funding.”

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