Washington, DC– Even before the Budget Control Act of 2011, thousands of programs that rely on non-defense discretionary (NDD) federal funding, including those that serve victims of domestic violence, had their budgets sharply cut. A new report released today by NDD United shows how millions of Americans are being hurt in the process.
“These continued cuts mean that thousands of victims fleeing violence are not able to find emergency shelter, crisis intervention, and other critical services they need to escape and heal,” said Kim Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic violence (NNEDV). “These are lifesaving services for crime victims who are already in a terrible situation-and there aren’t alternatives.”
The report, “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Safe,” details sector by sector, from safety to public health to education to workforce development, the stories of those who have been impacted most by Washington’s failure to protect the programs that keep us healthy, safe, educated and much more. The report is authored by NDD United, an alliance of more than 3,200 national, state, and local organizations – including NNEDV- working to stop needless cuts to core government functions.
Domestic violence programs, along with other NDD programs upon which victims often rely to rebuild their lives after crisis, have been cut dramatically and disproportionately in recent years as lawmakers endeavor to reduce the deficit without raising additional revenues. This has been done despite expert agreement that these programs do not contribute to our nation’s mid- and longer-term debt problem. Sequestration locks in these devastating cuts for the next eight years.
At the same time that funding is decreasing, domestic violence programs across the country are reporting an increase in the demand for their help, which creates an unconscionable gap in available services. On just one day in 2012, domestic violence programs nationwide provided services to 64,324 victims and their children. But on that same day, over 10,470 requests for services went unmet due to a lack of funding and resources. It is estimated that, because of sequestration, at least 148,090 additional victims of violence will not be able to access services each year.
The Budget Control Act established caps restricting how much funding Congress could allocate to discretionary programs each year over the next decade. As a result, by 2023, these caps will cut $1.6 trillion from defense discretionary and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs combined, relative to the inflation-adjusted 2010 funding levels. Under sequestration, these programs-including both defense and nondefense programs-face more than $700 billion in cuts over the next eight years. In two years, NDD spending will equal a smaller percentage of our economy than ever before (based on data back to 1962)-if lawmakers do not act to replace sequestration with a more meaningful and comprehensive deficit reduction strategy.
Even though Congress and the White House came to agreement on a budget deal earlier this month, the agreement conspicuously failed to address sequestration and the funding level for fiscal year 2014.
“Given the dangerous and potentially lethal nature of domestic violence, we cannot afford to ignore victims’ needs – and we cannot allow this deadly sequestration to continue,” said Gandy. “Congress and the Budget Conference Committee must act now to replace the sequester with a responsible and balanced plan that meets the needs of domestic violence victims, and all of those who are most vulnerable in our communities.”
“Faces of Austerity” is available online.