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Our budget is a moral document
By Rev. Marvin Eckfeldt
Our governor and state legislators are faced with the difficult task of preparing a balanced budget and are calling for extreme cuts in government services to match the income shortfall created by these tough economic times.
There are some services, like those provided to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, that are part of our public safety network and benefit all of us.
Yet, the governor's budget proposes a 20 percent reduction to state funding for sexual assault and domestic violence programs, such as the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC), which has a long history of providing services that increase public safety and save lives.
What does this say about our care and concern for our neighbors, if therapy and legal advocacy services for these victims of crime are not available? What if they were not available for your loved one?
There has never been a greater need for services, and even with current funding the resource center cannot assist all those who need help. Criminal sexual assault cases in King County now take 18-24 months to be resolved (up from previously 12-18 months). This greatly increases the strain on victims and families.
We know that untreated victims face huge hurdles in their future. A recent Washington state survey reported that 100 percent of women who had multiple sexual assaults as adults had been victimized as children. Problems with school performance, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide are often result of untreated sexual assault. Treatment and healing are critical. Who will be there for victims if our agencies are starved for funding?
Here are some things you can do:
• Call-write your Olympia elected officials and urge that funding for sexual assault services be at least at the current 2011 budget level;
• Remind our Legislature that “cuts-only budget” it will degrade the quality of our life;
• Speak to your family members, neighbors, your church and friends and alert them to this serious funding crisis and ask them to join you in making your views known right now in Olympia.
Our state budget is a moral document. The human needs in our communities require continued and adequate funding. The time to speak out is now. The time to stand up is now.
Rev. Marvin Eckfeldt is a member of the Board of Directors of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center