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Corbett touts anti-rape funding

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with employees who combat sexual violence, Gov. Corbett visited Philadelphia on Thursday to highlight a proposed $700,000 increase in state funding to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, one of the state's leading advocacy groups for victims of sexual assault.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with employees who combat sexual violence, Gov. Corbett visited Philadelphia on Thursday to highlight a proposed $700,000 increase in state funding to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, one of the state's leading advocacy groups for victims of sexual assault.

During a news conference at the Center City offices of Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR), a crisis center that receives funding from the coalition, Corbett said the additional money, included in his budget proposal last month, would represent a 10 percent increase for the agency, and help it and its affiliated crisis centers fight sexual violence and advocate for victims.

"The number-one role of government is public safety," he said, adding that there was "no better use" of government funding than combating sexual crimes.

Diane Moyer, the coalition's legal director, said that the money would help the agency and its 50 affiliated crisis centers provide more robust counseling services when they are often unable to meet demand. Carole Johnson, WOAR's executive director, said it had about 50 people on a three-month waiting list for counseling services.

"Hearing that the governor supports our work means a lot," Johnson said after Thursday's event.

The increased funding would be a welcome change for the coalition. According to documents it provided, its state funding has not increased in six years.

"Certainly it's going to make a difference for 50 of our crisis centers that are so dependent on state and federal funding," the coalition's chief executive officer, Delilah Rumburg, said.

Corbett addressed several other issues at the news conference, not all of which have played out in as civil a manner as Thursday's announcement.

On privatizing the state's lottery, Corbett said he had "a philosophical disagreement of opinion" with Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who recently voided a $3.4 billion contract between the state and Camelot, a British company that would manage the lottery. Corbett said that he would continue to try to find ways to bring external management to the lottery, which he said would make it more profitable.

He also touched on the decision to decline Medicaid expansion, which is available to all states under the federal Affordable Care Act. While Republican governors in surrounding states have opted in to the expansion, and while some lawmakers in his party are calling on him to do the same, Corbett said again that he had not been given enough information to make a decision.

"I have not gotten the information we've asked for," he said. "We've sent out repeated questions to the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius that have not been satisfactorily answered or answered at all."

He said that he had a brief meeting with Sebelius in Washington recently and that the two plan to meet again. But until receiving answers he finds more satisfactory about the program's cost, he said, he will not opt in for Medicaid expansion.

Corbett's budget proposal, which included the decision to pass on Medicaid expansion, came on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll that showcased a variety of unfavorable numbers for the governor. Overall, the poll said, Pennsylvania voters disapprove of his performance, 42 percent to 36 percent, and female voters disapprove by a wider margin, 45 percent to 31 percent.

Corbett said Thursday that he did not pay attention to polls, and Johnson said the increased funding may help voters recognize the governor's efforts to fight sexual assault.

"People will see that he cares," she said.

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