In a press release Wednesday, Governor Tom Corbett announced that the preview of his 2014-15 budget includes a $2.2 million increase in funding for domestic violence and rape crisis programs.
In the press release, Corbett stated that helping citizens in times of need "is one of the core functions of government."
It could be welcome news to YWCA Northcentral Pennsylvania, 815 W. Fourth St., whose Wise Options program provides emergency shelter, legal advocacy and counseling for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Executive director Diane Glenwright said that "we're reserving our reaction until the final budget is passed."
The 10-percent increase would bring state funding of these programs to historic levels of about $15.3 million, according to the press release, but it's hard to say how many dollars that would translate into for the YWCA.
"There's multiple factors in distributing funds, if the increase happens," Glenwright said. "There's a series of negotiations between the funding agencies and the state to decide exactly how much goes where."
Glenwright has been with the local YWCA for 12 years, where she's seen more cuts to funding than increases.
"In my career, I've learned that you shouldn't count on anything until the final budget is passed," she said, noting that the funding could be affected by the projected $1.4 billion deficit for 2014-15.
Kim Ramin, accounting director, agreed, noting that even if a percentage increase is finalized, the organization may not see all of it.
"For our domestic violence program, last year we received a 15-percent increase in funding, but a little more than 8 percent of that went toward restoring funds for the 2009-10 fiscal year," he said. "So we only saw about half of that amount."
Restoring funds from previous years is common, he said, and it's up to the state to determine what percentage of an increase, if any, will be used.
If the money does come through, Glenwright said, it definitely will boost revenue for the organization, which recently opened a gently used women's clothing boutique to help defray some of its costs.
"The boutique is for not only helping women, but also generating some manner of revenue, especially if funds don't materialize or funding decreases," she said.
Regardless of the outcome, Glenwright said she especially was thankful for the efforts of The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the agencies that distribute money to domestic violence and rape crisis centers across the state, for convincing the governor's office to consider increased funding.
"They have done a wonderful job lobbying for this increase," she said. "They got it at least this far."
In Pennsylvania, more than 30,000 people per year use the service centers like the Wise Options program at the YWCA.
The coalition also operates more than 25,000 school-based prevention programs and 3,000 community prevention programs. The proposed increase in funding would give the coalition an additional $800,000 per year, bringing their total budget to more than $8 million, according to the press release.
Although it's not yet set in stone, Glenwright is hopeful that the funding will come through, so it can benefit the roughly 1,000 women that the YWCA helps each year.
"If it happens, it will be truly wonderful news," she said.