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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

States Cut Programs to Balance Budget

Aired July 2, 2003 - 20:38   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Across the U.S., state officials are struggling to balance budgets by cutting programs. Why should you care? Well, in our continuing look at states in crisis, Jason Carroll shows us a program that can be a lifesaver, but only if it gets the money to stay open.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gabrielle Duffy describes herself as a survivor. She was raped in high school, and a victim of incest as a child. Emotional burdens kept secret for so long it was destroying her.

GABRIELLE DUFFY: I was at a point where I was really leaning on self-abusive behavior a lot. Cutting, burning myself, stopping eating and really just wanted to die.

CARROLL: While in college, Duffy called a rape crisis hotline and got help. It is where she works now.

DUFFY: Think that if a rape crisis center had not been available at that time when I was in crisis and really needed to talk to someone, I probably would have committed suicide.

CARROLL: Now the rape crisis center that helped Duffy and thousand of others like her are in jeopardy because of the state's budget crisis. This week the governor signed a new budget which cuts $200 million in spending and slashes 75 percent of funding to the rape crisis centers. The effect.

CATHERINE GREENE, EXEC. DIR. OF JANE DOE INC: Devastating. In a nutshell, devastating.

CARROLL: As a result, 13 of the 18 rape crisis centers statewide may have to close.

GREENE: These cuts are terrible because it's just going to mean a decimation of services to victims.

CARROLL: Other areas being cut, nearly $9 million in school health programs. Ten million for kindergartens, 23 million to cities and all funding for civil legal assistance for the poor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more cuts!

CARROLL: Demonstrators stormed the statehouse in opposition to the budget. Several were arrested. The governor says the cuts may be painful, but necessary to avoid raising taxes.

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Let me make it very clear. I would far rather be adding money to many important social programs than having to cut back.

CARROLL: And so for Gabrielle Duffy and the state of Massachusetts, protecting people from higher taxes prevails over protecting the services provided by rape crisis centers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARROLL: And Massachusetts isn't the only state that's dealing with budget problems. They are dealing with similar problems in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada and Oregon. Lawmakers in those states trying to come to terms with whether or not they should raise taxes or cut programs -- Paula.

ZAHN: Interesting story, Jason Carroll, thanks for the update.

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