- Policy & Research
- About KHI
May 14, 2012
TOPEKA Senate budget negotiators have proposed a major change in how the state funds programs for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The proposal, crafted by Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, would shift $1 million in domestic violence grants currently administered by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to a similar grant program administered directly by the Governor’s Office.
The Governor's Office already administers about $3.9 million in state-funded grants.
The $1 million would be taken from a $1.7 million fund that SRS uses to pay for services for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.
Currently, the services are limited to victims who apply for public assistance.
Under Kelly’s proposal, the services would be made available to victims regardless if they were eligible for public assistance.
“The programs would not be bound by the same restrictions as they are now,” Kelly said. “We would not discriminate.”
The current SRS-funded services, she said, likely would “cease to exist” because local programs have signaled they are unwilling to contract with SRS.
Kelly put the proposal together last week after the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence announced that it would not be renewing its contract with SRS due to philosophical conflicts with the agency that had proven irresolvable.
The current contract runs through June 30, the end of the state’s current fiscal year.
The coalition, which represents the state’s 29 local sexual assault and domestic violence programs, has had the contract since 1998.
“These have not been easy contracts to administer,” said Joyce Grover, the coalition’s executive director.
The coalition decided against renewing its contract with SRS after officials at SRS said they wanted local program officials to stress the importance of victims becoming self-sufficient and going off welfare within 18 months.
Grover said coalition members consider it their role to provide advocacy and safety for victims, which may or may not involve exiting public assistance.
Last week, Kathe Decker, director of economic and employment services at SRS, defended the agency's new emphasis on leaving public assistance, telling members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee that she knew of a woman who had been on the program for 10 years and had told social workers that she didn’t have to work because she’d been traumatized.
Coalition members welcomed the Senate proposal, which was offered during House-Senate budget negotiations.
“It would be wonderful for us and for every shelter in the state,” said LeeAnn Riediger, executive director at Safe Homes, a domestic violence program headquartered in Winfield.
The item was one of dozens still undecided after a fifth round of meetings Monday between the House and Senate bargainers.
The negotiating teams have now met 17 times without settling on a budget plan for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.
They agreed to resume talks at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.