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The Impact of Advocacy on our Community

In Sexual Assault Awareness on March 16, 2010 at 9:44 am
Thanks and Congratulations to all who helped our advocacy to protect domestic violence funding.

Members of the General Assembly of Virginia passed a budget yesterday that restored funding for domestic violence services, homeless shelters (including domestic violence shelters), and child advocacy centers to the levels proposed in former Governor Kaine’s budget.
Thank you to the Members of the General Assembly, especially the Budget conferees, for protecting these programs!

Now, we await Governor McDonnell’s signature!
Facts in dollars and cents!

We started this session with a budget proposed by former Governor Kaine that included a 7.5% cut for domestic violence services through the Department of Social Services (VDSS), a 5% cut for Sexual Assault Crisis Centers through the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), an 8% cut for homeless intervention services through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DCHD), and a 10% cut to Child Advocacy Centers.
The Budget passed by the General Assembly includes these original cuts to funding, but no more!  The statewide reductions to domestic and sexual violence services will be:
  • DV Funding at VDSS:  $138,750 cut in 2011 & 2012;
  • SV Funding at DCJS:  $67,500 cut in 2011 & 2012;
  • Homeless Funding at DCHD:  $400,000 in 2011 & 2012;
  • Child Advocacy Centers: $100,000 in 2011 & 2012.
We also spent time advocating for a raise in marriage license fees.  What Happened to the Budget Amendment?

The General Assembly did not include the marriage license fee increase in the final budget.
  • This is GOOD news in that our requested fee increase which was intended to expand services was not used to restore a funding cut. Therefore the Action Alliance can still ask for an increase in the fee in the future to provide expanded services, such as those for children and youth.
  • The downside is that we don’t have dedicated funding for children and youth services.  It also means that domestic violence funding was not completely restored to its 2009 levels.

Holding the domestic violence and shelter funding cuts to below 10% is a significant feat in a budget year like this. Everyone of you who made a call, wrote a letter, had a visit, spread the news, or got media attention is a part of this success!  So thank you to everyone who responded to the action alerts put out by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and spoke up on behalf of Virginia’s domestic violence programs and the persons they serve.

Domestic violence services are important to everyone.  A special thank you to the following who engaged in grassroots organizing to spread the news of the domestic violence cuts and rally support for restoring funds:
  • NOW-Virginia
  • Virginia Interfaith Center
  • The Farm Team
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children

Thanks for the staff, interns, volunteers, and board members of the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault for all your help in advocating for funding to be restored.  All efforts to impact violence in our community supports all of us.

Heartfelt thanks to Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and Delegate John O’Bannon for serving as our budget amendment patrons (and Delegate Kirk Cox for co-patroning) and to all of the Budget Conferees who supported restoring our funds.
Finally, a big thank you to the lobbyists, Gena Boyle and Claire Guthrie Gastañaga who worked tirelessly to get these funds restored (and Chris Spanos who helped explain the complicated and veiled budget process).
Now for the Next Steps and what you can do to help:

Governor: Now the budget is in the Governor’s hands – he can sign it or amend it.  Please call (804-786-2211) or e-mail via http://www.governor.virginia.gov/TheAdministration/contactGovernor.cfm and ask him to approve the budget as it includes no additional cuts to domestic violence and sexual assault programs.
Thanks again to all of our Local allies – your efforts were critical in getting this funding restored.

Re-posted (revised) from the The Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. http://www.vsdvalliance.org

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