Time to speak out on state budget | Letter

Our state budget is a moral document. Our governor and state legislators are faced with the difficult task of preparing a balanced budget and are calling for extreme cuts in government services to match the severe income shortfall created by these tough economic times. There are some services, like public safety, that our tax dollars must support. Services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are part of our public safety network and benefit all of us.

Our state budget is a moral document.

Our governor and state legislators are faced with the difficult task of preparing a balanced budget and are calling for extreme cuts in government services to match the severe income shortfall created by these tough economic times.  There are some services, like public safety, that our tax dollars must support.  Services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence are part of our public safety network and benefit all of us.

Having served on the board of King County Sexual Assault Resource Center for the past eight years the severe cut in funding for sexual assault and domestic violence will have a devastating effect on our communities.  Do we want to live in a community, a state, which fails to meet critical safety needs of our citizens?  What does this say about our care and concern for our neighbors; if therapy and legal advocacy services for these victims of crime are not available?  What if they were not available for your loved one?

The facts are obvious.  63 percent of the victims of sexual assault and abuse KCSARC helps are under the age 18.  Criminal sexual assault cases in King County now take 18-24 months to be resolved (up from previously 12-18 months).  This greatly increases the strain on victims and families.

We know that untreated victims face huge hurdles in their future.  A recent Washington state survey reported that 100 percent of women who had multiple sexual assaults as adults had been victimized as children. Problems with school performance, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide are often results of untreated sexual assault. Treatment and healing are critical.  Who will be there for victims if our agencies are starved for funding?

Prosecution of sexual assault cases aids in making our communities safer.  Sexual assault and domestic violence services are a critical element in this public safety.  Mary Ellen Stone, executive director of KCSARC observes, “Without a legal advocacy services, victims are less likely to participate in the criminal justice system and offenders are less likely to face prosecution.”

These next months when our elected state leaders are making difficult decision they need to hear from us.  What level of safety and quality of life do we want?  What responsibility do we as a community have to meet the needs of victims and survivors?  Support from the religious community, individual donors, business and foundations cannot fill the gaps caused by the elimination of public tax dollars.  A “cuts-only” budget will degrade the quality of life for everyone.

Our state budget is a moral document!  The human needs in our communities require continued and adequate funding.

The time to speak out is now.  The time to stand up is now.  Let’s do it together!

Rev. Marvin Eckfeldt, Kent

Retired Christian Church minister


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