Bush Budget Proposal Slashes Iowa Law Enforcement and Victim Service Programs

He’s doing it again.

Perhaps he doesn’t think crime takes place in Iowa. Or, perhaps he doesn’t think Iowans care about the crime taking place within our state. Then again, perhaps he doesn’t think crime affects Iowans’ lives.

He’s wrong. It does. We do. And, yes, it does.

Thank God, our U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) realizes all the above.

Once again, Sen. Harkin is fighting for Iowans and leading the effort to restore critical funds to this year’s budget in response to Bush’s latest proposal to slash another 63% from state and local law enforcement programs. This, while Iowans are still recovering from last year’s 67% cut to the Byrne funded drug task forces across the state.

Harkin and his Senate colleagues announced on Jan. 30 that they seek to increase funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program to $660 million. This would increase Iowa’s estimated share of 2008 funding from $1.5 million to $6.1 million. Harkin — in his announcement — was joined by police officers and local sheriffs, including Marshall County Sheriff Ted Kamatchus and Iowa’s Drug Czar Gary Kendall.

“Iowa is already reeling from funding cuts to law enforcement programs, which I am currently fighting to restore in the current year’s budget,” Harkin said in response to Bush’s latest proposed cuts. “I will continue my work to ensure Iowans do not have to face these devastating cuts.”

Federal assistance allows local law enforcement to better coordinate drug fighting efforts, hire officers and purchase equipment, stop domestic violence and effectively deal with drug dealers. Unless funding is added to the budget, these important programs will be cut.

The Bush Budget Impact on Iowa

  • The Bush budget would slash or eliminate many programs aimed at bolstering local law enforcement, including the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which helps local police departments put more officers out on Iowa’s streets. In Iowa, law enforcement agencies would have to absorb a loss of $6.5 million dollars if this was enacted.
  • The President’s budget will eliminate Byrne Grants that fund many drug fighting programs across the state. Due to the President’s veto threats, last year’s appropriations bill underfunded the Byrne Grant program. Senator Harkin is already working to restore this money this fiscal year which would restore $3.5 million to Iowa so law enforcement will not need to cut staff and program resources. He will vigorously oppose any attempts to eliminate this program in next year’s budget.
  • The President’s budget also proposes to eliminate all Department of Justice grant programs for victims of domestic violence including legal assistance, grants for safe havens for children and victims of domestic violence with disabilities. Due to this loss of funding, most, if not all of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs around the state would have to close.

Fellow Iowans, is this acceptable to you?

Bush never got the privilege of meeting Dad Earl. Perhaps the death of Earl Thelander meant nothing to Bush, nor the deaths of many more like Dad Earl whose fates were sealed by Iowa law enforcement entities doing the best they could in the face of numerous budget cuts under an administration whose mantra is and has been Shoot-First-and-Ask-Questions-Later.

But, the People are quick studies. Iowans are quick studies. And, we’re watching you, Mr. Bush, just like you’ve been watching us.

Thank you, Sen. Harkin, for keeping watch on issues that matter not just to Iowans, but to all Americans.

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