Gov. Bev Perdue announced today that she will include $10.3 million in her budget proposal this year for Eugenics-related efforts. The funds will go towards two main purposes. First, they will support $50,000 payments to verified victims of the state's former Eugenics Board program, which involuntarily sterilized North Carolinians during the 20th century. Funds will also ensure continued operations of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, which provides ongoing outreach and clearinghouse services to assist Eugenics victims.
"We cannot change the terrible things that happened to so many of our most vulnerable citizens, but we can take responsibility for our state's mistakes and show that we do not tolerate violations of basic human rights," Gov. Perdue said. "We must provide meaningful assistance to victims, so I am including this funding in my budget."
Gov. Perdue's request for this appropriation is based upon the recommendations of the Eugenics Compensation Task Force, which issued its final report in January. Notably, it called for a tax-free, lump sum payment of $50,000 to living victims and those who were alive when verified by the Sterilization Victims Foundation. Gov. Perdue is advocating a fiscally responsible approach that provides $10.3 million this year, with the understanding that future appropriations may be required if additional victims are identified and verified.
The Task Force examined the actions and impacts of the N.C. Eugenics Board, which implemented a program of involuntary sterilization that took place in all 100 counties between 1929 and 1974.
The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation today confirmed another increase in the number of verified victims sterilized by the state's former N.C. Eugenics Board program. To date, 132 people in 51 counties have been matched to state program records.
Legislators who have been outspoken in their support of victim compensation and continued operation of the Sterilization Victims Foundation today endorsed the Governor's proposal.
"Gov. Perdue's budget includes a thoughtful and fiscally smart approach to righting the legacy of this shameful stain on North Carolina's history," said Rep. Earline Parmon. "A recurring appropriation spread over several years will allow citizens time to come forward while the state sets up processes to adequately search for victims."
"I highly commend the Governor for taking the experiences of victims to heart while developing a package that can produce bipartisan support," said Rep. Larry Womble. "This has dragged on too long. It is essential that the General Assembly heed the Governor's call for compensation this session."
"I'm gratified that Gov. Perdue has made this issue a priority of her budget package. Compensation is long overdue," said Sen. Floyd McKissick. "We will work with the leadership of both houses to get this passed before the end of this fiscal year. Passage this year is vital not only to compensate victims, but also to continue the work of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation."
The Sterilization Victims Foundation logged more than 1,900 phone inquiries in the first three months of 2012 as it continues to receive verification inquiries from people who feel that they were impacted by the state's former Eugenics Board program. If you believe you are or know someone who may have been affected by the program, call the toll-free hotline 877-550-6013 (or 919-807-4270) for information, or visit the Foundation's website: www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov.