Column | Funding needed for sexual violence services
It is hard to believe, but Arizona is one of only a handful of states that does not provide funding for sexual violence services. Thankfully, we now have an opportunity to fix this.
Legislators will soon begin negotiations on next year’s budget. This gives legislators from both sides of the aisle the opportunity to finally fund sexual violence services. Just $8 million could provide victim services across Arizona. Considering our state budget is almost $13 billion, this is a proverbial drop in the bucket, and the impact it could have for Arizonans cannot be overstated.
Sexual assault doesn’t just affect the victims. This is why funding for sexual assault services is a tremendous benefit for not only victims, but also for the community in the reduction of medical, criminal, legal and social services needed to respond.
COVID-19 has only compounded the problem. Sexual and domestic violence calls have increased since the beginning of the pandemic. Arizona’s lack of funding for sexual violence services is failing all of us, and with an estimated budget surplus of $350 million and a rainy-day fund of over $1 billion, there is no excuse for this to continue.
At the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, we work every day to improve conditions for survivors. That is why we are imploring legislators to fund sexual violence services this year.
We cannot wait any longer.
(Jenna Panas is the CEO of the Arizona Coalition to end Sexual and Domestic Violence.)
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