State Aid Cuts Hurting Groups That Help Sexual Assault Victims

12/5/11 – Wisconsin groups that help sexual assault victims will get 42-percent less in state aid next year. The Justice Department said the cuts were mainly due to a drop in revenues from criminal fines — along with much lower funding ordered by the governor and Legislature in the new state budget. Pennie Meyers of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault calls the cuts “disastrous.” She said it would “imperil” the efforts of local groups in meeting the needs of sexual assault survivors. But Assistant Attorney General Steve Means said it was nothing his agency wanted to do — and it did not have much of a choice. Criminals help pay for the sex assault victim programs with surcharges on their fines. And that revenue has been reduced from one-and-three-quarter million dollars in 2008 to about one-point-four million this year. Also, the Justice Department said the new state budget required a 10-percent spending cut for all state agencies. And officials said they’d have to find an additional 174-million dollars. Attorney General J-B Van Hollen asked lawmakers to exempt from the Justice Department from the budget cuts — but they said no.