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PRESS RELEASE: Sexual And Domestic Violence Coalitions Host A Day At The Capitol To Advocate For Sustainable Victim Services Funding

DENVER, CO — The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) and Violence Free Colorado brought over 100 sexual violence, domestic violence, and child abuse victim service providers and allies from across the state together today for a joint Day at the Capitol event. Joined by House Majority Leader Monica Duran, House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Faith Winter, attendees showed up in droves to meet with legislators and advocate for sustainable victim services funding.

Since 2021, statewide victim service coalitions have been raising the alarm on federal funding cuts. Over 200 community-based victims’ services organizations in Colorado heavily rely on federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to serve Coloradans who have experienced domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, and other crimes. The newly-released federal Fiscal Year 24 appropriations bill includes a $630 million cut to VOCA – a devastating blow to survivors across the country. As a result, the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice projects Colorado’s VOCA award could be cut in half. This event allowed advocates, survivors, and service providers to share with legislators what a 50% VOCA funding cut would mean for them: reduced services, layoffs, and—in some cases—program closures.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Elizabeth Newman, Public Policy Director at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “ The need for survivor services has been increasing in recent years while funding has been decreasing, leaving sexual assault programs with longer waitlists and reduced services. Survivors, their families, communities, and our state as a whole will face devastating and costly consequences without access to these critical services.”

“This devastating cut to Colorado’s VOCA awards is truly life and death,” said Soledad Diaz, Director of Public Policy and Community Impact at Violence Free Colorado. “We cannot afford for domestic violence shelters to cut staff, for crisis line calls to go unanswered, or for rural and culturally-specific programs to shutter. No one knows this better than our victim advocates. We’re grateful for the advocates and survivors who traveled across the state to tell state legislators loud and clear how dire this funding need really is.”

Victim advocates and survivors had two asks: (1) allocate at least $30 million to victim services in the FY24-25 state budget to offset the impact of the anticipated VOCA award cuts and (2) support HB24-1349, which refers a ballot measure to the November 2024 statewide election asking Colorado voters to approve a new excise tax of 11% on the gross taxable retail sales of firearm dealers, manufacturers, and ammunition vendors for all firearms, firearm precursor parts, and ammunition sold in the state. If approved by voters, the revenue generated by HB24-1349 will go directly to fund victim services: $45 million for Crime Victim Services (CVS) grants, $5 million for local Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement (VALE), and $5 million for mass tragedy response and prevention programs. Event attendees stressed to legislators the importance of creating a sustainable funding source that victim service programs can rely on even as federal funding fluctuates.

Last year, Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee made state history when it allocated $17 million to victim services for the first time. Other states like Texas, Wisconsin, and Utah annually invest anywhere from $25 million to $73 million in victim services. Organizations in attendance sent a clear, unified message: it is time for Colorado to join these efforts.