Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iowa governor's budget includes $4.2 million to sustain programs for victims of domestic violence

There’s going to be plenty of bad news connected to the trimmed budget that Iowa Gov. Chet Culver released Wednesday. But one bright spot is that the Big Lug seems to have listened to the concerns of domestic violence advocates and called for nearly $4.2 million for programs that provide services to crime victims.

Earlier this month, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller called on the governor and the Iowa Legilsature to provide $4 million to maintain these “lifesaving services.” Last week, the Iowa City Press-Citizen Editorial Board echoed the attorney general’s request and urged state leaders to find a sustainable source of funding for these programs (“Don’t leave abuse victims out in the cold,” Jan. 24).

“‘This problem is not a result of the current budget crisis,’ said Beth Barnhill, the executive director of the Iowa Coalition against Sexual Assault. ‘This is a problem of long-standing that came to a head in a terrible economic time. We're not asking for any new money. We're only asking to maintain our funding — which is still at 85 percent what we were receiving seven years ago.’”

Many state leaders have spoken in support of the programs — which in Iowa City include the Rape Victim Advocacy Program and the Domestic Violence Intervention Program. But it wasn’t until Wednesday's budget proposal that the program directors were sure whether that support was just lip service or was likely to result in sustainable funding.

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