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Victims services cuts leave Iowa agencies uneasy, lawmakers divided

Victim service providers across the state are concerned that proposed cuts to state victims services could mean Iowans in need of resources feel the pinch.

The Justice Systems Appropriation Subcommittee’s budget this week earmarked $559 million for Iowa’s justice system in fiscal 2018, including money for the Board of Parole and the Departments of Justice, Corrections, Human Rights and Public Safety.

The proposed appropriation provides $5.02 million for victim assistance grants in fiscal 2018. That’s a 22 percent, or $1.45 million cut. from the current fiscal year — a concern to Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The budget is up for debate in the state Senate next week.

“It’s not like our programs have any excess by any means, so any sort of cuts will mean cuts in services to survivors,” Barnhill said. “What we were able to do with all of these reorganizations (in 2013) is we were able to get services in all of the counties. It’s our concern that we won’t be able to serve the rural counties.”

Barnhill said the reorganization expanding from serving 4,000 victims of sexual assault to 10,000.

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