Domestic violence, sexual assault and legal aid programs
saved in preliminary 2010 King County Budget
Council budget leadership restores $1.4 million in critical human
service programs

After hearing painful personal testimonies from survivors of domestic
violence and sexual assault at four public hearings, members of the
Metropolitan King County Council’s Budget Leadership Team today
announced they have reprioritized funds in their 2010 budget proposal to
fully restore programs that prevent violence against women and families
with children at 2009 levels.

“Every year we are reminded of the vital role public input has on our
budget process,” said Council Budget Chair Larry Gossett. “Compelling
stories from the survivors of abuse and the agencies that help them
escape started at our first public hearing in Bellevue and continued
throughout our budget deliberations. These are programs that literally
save lives-we could not let them end.”

“The voices of the abused spoke and we listened,” said Budget Vice Chair
Jane Hague. “Our legal community stands ready to help victims leave
abusive homes and move forward with their lives and we chose to support
them.”

“These difficult economic times create additional stress for families,”
said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “Regretfully, this can result in an
increase in the incidence of domestic violence. Experts tell us only 1
in 18 survivors receives the kind of services they need to escape abuse
and recover from assault. By meeting these important needs, this budget
provides the basic human services that help the survivors of domestic
violence and assist the criminal justice system.”

“It’s no coincidence that the three women on the budget leadership team
have stood together and made a powerful case for funding domestic
violence and sexual assault prevention,” said Councilmember Julia
Patterson. “Women’s homes and lives are in crisis more than ever before
and we cannot stand by and watch more of our family, our friends, and
our neighbors become victims of violence.”

The Councilmembers said the revised county budget they will release
tomorrow will restore nearly $1.4 million in dedicated and general funds
for programs for the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault,
and for legal aid programs that help survivors obtain restraining orders
and navigate the judicial system.

The so-called “budget striker” to be released tomorrow will restore:

*       $764,000 in the general fund for domestic violence
prevention,

*       $504,000 for the prevention of sexual assault, half of
which is supported by the general fund and half from the sales tax
dedicated for mental illness and drug dependency programs, and

*       $108,000 in the general fund for legal aid programs that
support families with children.

Council budget leadership funded the programs in their striker by
reprioritizing some of the $3 million set aside in the Executive
Proposed Budget to transition the County out of animal sheltering
services. The Council has called for the County to make that transition
sooner, by January 31, 2010.

Leaders of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs
praised the Council’s Budget Leadership Team for the full restoration of
funding at 2009 levels. The Executive Proposed Budget had called for an
80 percent cut to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, and
complete elimination of funding for legal aid programs.

“You have shown the courage that victims and their families show when
they speak out, you have shown that our community has the convictions to
keep these critical services in place. Because of your actions we will
not have to tell two families every day that we can’t help them because
we don’t have the staff,” said Mary Ellen Stone, executive director of
the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. “We also recognize this
is a one-year fix. We need long-term, dedicated funding for regional
community health and human services and we are committed to working with
you to accomplish this.”

“Thanks to your action, this funding will keep hotlines staffed,
emergency shelters open, and enable support groups to continue,” said
Merril Cousin, executive director of the King County Coalition Against
Domestic Violence. “We understand this is a one-year reprieve, and if we
are going to have a community where our friends, families and neighbors
can get the help they need during hard times, we need adequate,
long-term, dedicated funding for these services. We look forward to
working to make this long-term solution a reality in 2010.”

“We commend the King County Council for recognizing the importance of
continuing to support critically-needed services for vulnerable members
of our community,” said Jorge Baron, Executive Director of the Northwest
Immigrant Rights Project.

The Budget Leadership Team is set to release its proposed budget
tomorrow. The full County Council is set to adopt the 2010 King County
Budget on Monday, November 23.

Follow the Council’s deliberations through Twitter and our 2010 Budget
Blog by visiting the King County Council Budget Web site at:
www.kingcounty.gov/council/budget

Watch all Council Budget proceedings held in chambers LIVE on King
County TV at:
www.kingcounty.gov/KCTV <http://www.kingcounty.gov/KCTV.aspx>

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