Madison – February 16, 2023 – The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) applauds Governor Evers for making a significant investment in sexual assault victim services and prevention. The 2023-25 Executive Budget released by Governor Evers increased funding for the Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) grant program by $5 million per year. The SAVS grant program, administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), is the only state funding for sexual violence prevention and direct services for survivors and their families. WCASA would also like to extend our appreciation to Attorney General Josh Kaul for including a SAVS increase in his agency budget request last fall. This investment will go a long way to ensuring the SAVS program can actually meet the needs of survivors in Wisconsin.
The investment in SAVS comes at a critical time for sexual assault services in Wisconsin. Programs that provide services to survivors, which are already experiencing funding reductions from local and charitable sources, are facing further cuts at the federal level. Despite efforts to stabilize Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding at the federal level, programs are expecting significant cuts in this important funding source in the near future. At the same time, many programs across the state are experiencing an increase in demand for their services.
SAVS funding has also been relatively static for the past decade. This has been a barrier to expanding SAVS funding to more culturally specific programs that provide critical services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), who are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence. Given the difficult fiscal constraints facing programs in Wisconsin, we appreciate Governor Evers for making this significant investment in SAVS. Increasing this funding will not only help reduce existing barriers to services for survivors, but can also lead to tremendous cost savings to society due to the increased investment in sexual violence prevention efforts. We call on the Legislature to include this vital increase to the SAVS program as they begin their work on the 2023-25 state budget.