The Wisconsin Department of Justice provides SAVS grant money to sexual assault service providers across Wisconsin. Forty-four SAVS grants were awarded in 2015 for a total of $2 million. This money covers victim services, including: counseling and therapy, helping victims maneuver the health care and criminal justice systems, law enforcement trainings, and prevention efforts.
The 2013-2015 budget restored SAVS funding to its peak level of $2 million annually. The reinvestment in SAVS helped to offset the 13.9% in funding cuts to the program made in the 2011-2013 biennial budget. Additionally, the budget altered the SAVS funding source from the Crime Victim and Witness Assistance Surcharge to General Purpose Revenue (GPR) funding. The budget also included funds for addressing child sex trafficking and the transfer of the Office of Justice Assistance to the Department of Justice, which aimed to improve efficiency in addressing victims’ needs.
The proposed budget continues to fund SAVS at its current level of $2 million annually. Additionally, the budget proposes $2 million in 2016-2017 to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide treatment services to child victims of sex trafficking. These services must be available in both urban and rural communities throughout Wisconsin. The governor’s budget also provides funding to continue the GPS tracking of child sex offenders and individuals who violate domestic abuse or temporary harassment restraining orders.
Governor Walker's Proposed 2015-2017 Budget as Amended by the Joint Committee on Finance
The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted to increase SAVS funding by $100,000 above the Governor's proposal, thus increasing SAVS funding over the biennium to $4.1 million total.
Final 2015-2017 Sexual Assault Victim Services Budget
The Legislature approved the Governor's proposed SAVS budget as amended by the JFC.
According to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 390,000 women in Wisconsin have experienced rape and 912,000 women have experience sexual violence other than rape at some point in their lives, yet in 2013 Wisconsin’s sexual assault service providers only had enough funds to serve 12,703 victims. Due to a lack of adequate resources, women who are victims of sexual assault often must travel long distances and encounter long waiting lists to get the services they need. While recent increases in SAVS funding does a lot to provide support and services to women who have been sexually assaulted, advocates hope to secure increased funding in the future to expand the reach of SAVS services.