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Some Alaska victim rights agencies expect budget cuts

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Some Alaska agencies that work with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are expecting large budgets cut that may go into effect when the fiscal year begins on July 1.

Suzi Pearson, the director of Abused Women's Aid in Crisis, said she was surprised by the extent of the cuts announced by the State Council on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault, Alaska’s News Source reported Friday.

"When we were told 30 to 33%, I think we all kind of stopped breathing," Pearson said.

The reductions are the result of federal funding cuts to the Victims of Crime Act program, Alaska's News Source reported.

Federal money first goes to the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, which then distributes the money in grants to agencies and non-profit groups around the state. For many agencies, it's a main source of funding, the media outlet reported.

Council Director Diane Casto said the federal funds have declined from a high of $7.9 million in 2018 to a projected low of $2.6 million for 2021.

"Alaska continues to have the highest rates of domestic violence and sexual violence around the country and we need these services,” Casto said. “They are critical."

Casto said the cuts would impact dozens of groups across the state, including organizations that focus on child abuse, mental health and victim's compensation.

Pearson said the budget cuts would require layoffs at Abused Women's Aid in Crisis.

The Associated Press