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Wisconsin held its primary yesterday in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. But a shortage of poll workers led to just five polling stations in Milwaukee instead of the usual 180.

Proposed State Budget Cuts: a Setback for Women in Need

June 11, 2009

Boston, MA – A cut here and a slash there, as members of a conference committee work to reconcile the differences between the Massachusetts House and Senate budget proposals. They're wrestling with more than a billion-dollar difference in spending between the two.

No matter how you slice it, says Toni Troop, programs that help women in need are already feeling the sting. Troop is development director for Jane Doe Inc., a Boston agency offering support services for people in crisis. She says the economic downturn already has resulted in an increase in domestic and sexual violence. Combined with proposed cuts to programs that help victims, she sees the makings of a 'perfect storm.'

"Domestic violence and sexual assault programs have been operating on a shoestring for years. To have to face such a deep cut again, we are looking at some very devastating situations right now."

The budgets proposed by the House and Senate would reduce funding for domestic violence programs by 7 percent and sexual assault services by 3 percent.

Transitional housing programs stand to lose even more funding. The Senate wants to cut 20 percent more than what the House has suggested, giving such programs a full 15 percent less than they received this year.

Ruthie Liberman, vice president of public policy for the Crittenton Women's Union, points out that more than 70 percent of families living in poverty are headed by single women.

"With these cuts, it's going to be harder to find subsidized housing. Even before this economic downturn, more than sixty percent of families needing subsidized housing were not receiving it. So, these cuts are really going to harm women."

Those opposed to the budget cuts favor raising various taxes, even temporarily, to increase state revenue; while those in favor of them are convinced that raising taxes would further harm the state's economy. Legislative conference committee members have until the end of June to release the new budget. It then lands on the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick, who has ten days to review it.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA