December 21, 2014

Budget may add stability to victims services funding

As lawmakers hear from citizens about Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget, a victims group has praise for at least one element of it. Walker wants the Sexual Assault Victims Services Program to be funded from tax dollars in General Purpose Revenue, rather than its current source from criminal surcharges. These surcharges are fees tacked onto a criminal’s bill upon conviction but revenue has been unstable, dropping from around $2 million in 2011 to $1.4 million in 2012.

“We don’t know exactly why it fell so sharply,” says John Keckhaver, a lobbyist for Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, adding an audit last summer could not pinpoint the cause.

Keckhaver applauds the governor’s plan to change the funding structure for SAVS. Walker’s biennial spending plan would also restore funding to $2 million dollars a year for the victims program.