Panel OKs funding cut for domestic violence victims

DES MOINES — Money used on services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Iowa would be reduced under a budget bill proposed Wednesday by Republicans, who argue federal funding will shield victims from the cuts aimed at people who staff the services.

A GOP-led budget committee approved spending about $1.4 million less on victim assistance grants distributed through the Iowa Attorney General’s office. The spending bill, one of several, is expected to have more procedural votes over several days as lawmakers try to finalize the roughly $7.2 billion state budget and wrap up the session. The roughly $6.7 million budget for the grants had already been reduced by about $260,000 during mid-year budget cuts.

Two advocacy groups — the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence — said the cuts would hurt victims by reducing staffing, which effectively would diminish the capacity for different entities to provide services. “This kind of significant cut to victim service agencies will create immediate and harmful consequences for survivors,” said Beth Barnhill, executive director for IowaCASA, in a statement.