- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - An advocate for victims of domestic violence said her group reached agreement Thursday with Indiana officials over funding for the private agencies serving them, but a state official denied there was a deal.

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence director Laura Berry said that her group has reached a deal with the state that avoids about $1 million in cuts that had been planned.

The issue was poised to boil over Friday at a meeting of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s board of trustees. But Barry said the deal calls for a separate meeting in two weeks where all of the $3.5 million allocated by lawmakers will be approved by state officials.

Advocates have said the administration of Gov. Mike Pence had been poised to cut roughly $160,000 in funding and place a hold on another roughly $826,000 in aid for 53 domestic violence shelters around the state.

Spokesman Gary Abell of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, which administers the funding, disputed Berry’s contention.

“Nothing has changed,” Abell said Thursday evening. He said the funding was still up for discussion at Friday’s meeting.

Abell also said no further meetings were planned.

The fight over state funding for domestic violence cropped up amid the national debate over the NFL player Ray Rice’s suspension for domestic abuse. It also stems from budget constraints in Indiana, which many Democrats and social services advocates say have been artificially created by Republicans.

Pence has continued a practice of cutting agency budgets at the start of each year in order to maintain the state’s significant cash reserves. The state has maintained a $2 billion cash savings, even as tax collections have fallen off.

Pence’s budget director told other members of the State Budget Committee last month that state agencies were already preparing for cuts again this year unless tax collections improve.

The governor is set to deliver his next biennial budget proposal to state lawmakers when they reconvene in January.

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