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Gov. Tony Evers delivered his weekly radio address Thursday on $45 million in new funds he and Attorney General Josh Kaul plan to put into violence prevention and crime-victim support.
On Wednesday they announced that the money, from American Rescue Plan Act federal dollars, would be split: $25 million would go for statewide research seeking community solutions into violence prevention and $20 million would support providers helping crime victims.
The governor labeled the cycle of violence and crime “much like the pandemic” as “another public health crisis.”
Evers said the funds were designed to enhance economic recovery, building on his previous rescue fund allocations tied to mental and physical health care, education and support for kids and families.
“Violence in our communities, like any public health issue, is not inevitable, and that’s why we’re investing $25 million of these dollars toward stopping violence before it begins,” said Evers in his radio spot. “The cycle of violence is not a foregone conclusion and today we have the chance to interrupt the cycle and build the sort of future we want for our state.”
Funding for crime victims support will help replace some of the multimillion-dollar shortfall in federal funding under the Victims of Crime Act, said Kaul. While federal funding has gone down, programs addressing crime prevention and helping victims in Wisconsin have reported increased demand during the pandemic. The Department of Justice will award the $20 million to service providers. Kaul said it “will provide majority support to efforts to stop crime before it happens.”
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault — the only statewide membership, training and technical assistance agency for sexual assult service providers, according to Evers — will receive $100,000. The governor included that funding in his 2021-23 biennial budget plan, but the money was cut by the Legislature.
The allocation of the funds was lauded by Reggie Moore, the director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement for the Medical College’s Comprehensive Injury Center.
“The American Rescue Plan has provided an unprecedented opportunity for local and state leaders to invest in comprehensive approaches to violence prevention that are rooted in public health and smart on public safety,” said Moore in a statement.
Evers ended his radio address on this note: “As our state and economy continue to bounce back, we have the opportunity to not just recover from the pandemic but to build the sort of future we want for our state.”
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