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Gov. Josh Shapiro's budget proposal to address gun violence as Philadelphia's homicide rate falls

Gov. Josh Shapiro tackles gun violence with budget proposal as Philly's homicide rate drops
Gov. Josh Shapiro tackles gun violence with budget proposal as Philly's homicide rate drops 02:16

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia's homicide rate is falling but state leaders are still looking at ways to address gun violence. Gov. Josh Shapiro was in West Kensington Friday morning pushing funding in his budget proposal to do just that.

"It's been absolute misery and that's why I'm out here. I don't want anyone else to feel what I feel," Meredith Elizalde, mother of Nicolas Elizalde, said.

It was September 2022 when Merideth lost her son Nicolas to gun violence. The 14-year-old was killed and four others wounded while leaving a football scrimmage in Roxborough. Now, she uses her voice to push for ways to combat gun violence.

"We need to be proactive, not reactive. Having a mural for Nic is amazing and it's beautiful. But if he hadn't been murdered at school to begin with then we wouldn't need it," she said.

Meredith joined Shapiro as he pitched funding specifically to prevent gun violence.

"It's simply having a law enforcement response to addressing gun violence in our communities is not enough," he said.

Shapiro's budget plan contains $100 million to address and prevent gun violence in communities across the state. It's a 37.5 million boost for the violence intervention and prevention program which gives money to community groups that work in violence prevention.

"Address the mental health challenges that they're dealing with, the trauma that they are forced to deal with because of the violence in these communities," he said.

Philadelphia has seen a drop in violent crime in 2024. Philadelphia police have recorded 89 homicides so far this year, a 35% drop from this time last year.

Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight founded Mothers In Charge 21 years ago after losing her son to gun violence. She's worked in violence prevention for a long time and believes the city may be at a turning point.

"I'm inspired right now. I'm feeling better right now than I've felt in a long time," Johnson-Speight said.

How a Kensington soccer program in Philadelphia fits into Gov. Josh Shapiro $100M budget proposal 02:06

How a Kensington soccer program in Philly fits into Gov. Josh Shapiro's $100M budget proposal

Jim Hardy always wanted to be a teacher, a job he's held in Kensington since 2006.

"It's still my dream job. It's also broken my heart many times," he said.

But there's one particular moment of heartache that stands out in the summer of 2009.

"One of my students, Eric Dixon, was killed by another one of my students just a few blocks north of here in Fairhill Square," he said.

Hardy said that incident spurred him to create change. In January 2010, he founded the Kensington Soccer Club. At a base level, he said the club gives kids something to do after school. But Hardy believes it does so much more.

"In every team, we have a focus on teaching conflict resolution, on teaching emotional regulation," he said.

Hardy's club now has 11 after-school programs across the neighborhood with students starting as young as 4 years old. Some of those little club members got to show off their skills to the governor Friday.

Shapiro's plan still has to get through a divided legislature in Harrisburg and while funding for the VIP program has been passed before, the governor said this is a record investment. But he points to the state's $14 billion surplus saying now is the time to spend.

"No one in the state capitol can tell you that we don't have the resources to invest in our children," he said.

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