Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish: Proposed Funding Cuts for Response to Violence Against Women
This week, Senators Leahy and Crapo introduced a bill to reauthorize and amend the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a federal law first enacted in 1994.
This is mostly good news. The VAWA mandates federal funding for victim assistance and transitional housing, strengthens provisions to penalize offenders, and requires states to provide a certain level of services with a view to preventing violence from occurring in the first place.
The bad news is that the proposed bill substantively slashes the funding for the implementation of the bill, reducing the authorized funds by more than $144 million (almost 20 percent) of 2005 levels over 5 years.
To be sure, the federal government has to save quite a lot more than $144 million to overcome its spending deficit, and Senator Leahy justified the cuts by reference to heightened efficiency through the consolidation of services. But if it is indeed possible to consolidate services and do more with less, would it not have been appropriate to ask, first, if the current funding levels adequately cover current needs?