GOP approves cuts to prisons, battered women, firefighter training
Advancing their all-cuts budget agenda, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate on Tuesday voted to slash funding to help battered women and crime victims, train firefighters, prevent crime, and monitor offenders out on probation.
“By refusing to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans, Republicans are choosing instead to make significant cuts that will threaten public safety and take away help from battered women and crime victims,” said Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, the Senate DFL Lead on the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee. “Minnesota Republicans have the wrong priorities for Minnesota. They are choosing to put the public’s safety at risk rather than asking the richest Minnesotans to pay one penny more in taxes. This bill makes it perfectly clear that we need a balanced approach to solving this budget crisis.”
Key provisions in the bill include:
· A $2 million cut to battered women shelters, along with deep cuts to the Office of the Justice Programs, which will have a profound impact on vital services for battered women’s shelters and victims of crime.
· The elimination of Community Justice Grants, which is currently the only crime prevention funding provided by the state.
· Slashing Civil Legal Services by 17% – greatly reducing the amount of legal services available to low income Minnesotans. Civil Legal Services saves the court system over $5 million a year by keeping many cases out of court.
· Cuts probation services across the state by 4% – this cut equates to 31 full-time probation officers who supervise over 3,100 offenders in the local communities, and will result in less supervision for offenders on probation in our communities unless local governments foot the bill.
· The bill directly transfers state costs to local governments through reinstating the DOC short-term offender program that sends all offenders with 60 days or less to local jails without reimbursing local governments.
In addition, the bill also cuts $8.5 million from the Fire Safety Account, which finances training programs for firefighters across the state. Funding for the account is largely generated through surcharges on insurance premiums paid by homeowners. The account also finances the work of the state fire marshal.
“This budget makes it very clear that Republicans in the Legislature care more about protecting the state’s wealthiest citizens than doing what’s best for Minnesota and best for our state,” said Sen. Latz.