Geiger center staff urges lawmakers to support funding
March 28, 2015
By Dave Rogers Staff Writer | Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2015 3:00 am
BOSTON — Representatives from the Newburyport-based Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center traveled to Beacon Hill yesterday to speak to state lawmakers with the hope of securing more funds for the nationally known anti-domestic violence center.
The visits were part of a statewide campaign, spearheaded by Jane Doe Inc., to lobby state representatives and senators to ratify a state fiscal 2016 budget line item that funds core services for the crisis center and similar advocacy agencies across the state. In all, more than 150 advocates, volunteers and survivors made the trip to Boston.
“Passage last year of Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014 demonstrated an understanding of the complexity and pervasiveness of these issues and a need to address them. This year legislators are being asked to match that commitment with budgetary support to help improve victim safety and hold offenders accountable,” Jane Doe Inc. policy director Maureen Gallagher said.
Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, is comprised of 60 programs located throughout the state, including the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center. Its goal is to promote social change with the hope of ending domestic violence.
As part of Jane Doe Inc.’s annual Legislative Advocacy and Awareness Day, Attorney General Maura Healey spoke at Suffolk Law School regarding the importance of civic engagement and the role of advocates and survivors in the policymaking process.
In January, Healey visited the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center’s Amesbury office where she received a tour of the facility and then assured assembled guests the crisis center had a partner in the attorney general’s office who would be a strong advocate for funding and resources.
Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center executive director Suzanne Dubus said Healey galvanized the crowd of about 150 advocates speaking powerfully about her commitment to the issue of domestic violence. Her words were so powerful that it energized advocates to seek out the funds they needed from lawmakers, she said.
Following Healey’s speech, Dubus visited the Statehouse, where she spent the afternoon speaking with regional lawmakers including state Rep. James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury), state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport), state Rep. Brad Hill, (R-Ipswich) and staff from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr’s office, with the hope of ensuring their support for the budget line item.
It is hoped that an additional $6.134 million in funds for sexual and domestic violence services will make a significant difference in the ability of local programs to respond to and meet the needs in their communities by resolving issues brought by funding cuts in fiscal 2009. Those cuts negatively impacted batterer’s intervention programs and cultural specific services for immigrants and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender community.
Passage of the budget item would also increase capacity for community-based domestic violence services and support medical accompaniment by a rape crisis advocate in the Berkshires, South Shore and northeast regions, according to Jane Doe Inc.
Dubus singled out the need for additional money to supplement a 20 percent increase in the number of offenders who are ordered to attend the state’s batterer’s intervention program since the passage of Chapter 260.
“The money hasn’t come through,” Dubus said.
Asked whether she felt she made any headway with local lawmakers, Dubus said she was encouraged.
“They were very supportive,” Dubus said.