Ky. domestic violence shelters, crisis centers advocating for House Bill 8 to avoid cuts in services, shutdowns

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 10:03 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers, etc. are all nonprofit organizations that take care of Kentucky’s most vulnerable people. But, their ability to do that is being threatened.

“Kentucky has really high rates of people who are sexually assaulted, who are abused, children and adults,” Staff Attorney for Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs Laela Kashan said. “So, this is not a time, this is not a place where we can afford to not ensure that these services are funded.”

For those programs that are part of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, they’re facing an employer contribution rate that will nearly double in July.

It’s an increase many of those shelters won’t be able to afford without making cuts to critical services like crisis intervention, safety planning, the ability to provide rapid housing for individuals, and more or shutting down some centers altogether.

“This is going to impact the whole system of services, it’s going to decrease shelter and supportive services, and it’s going to affect the caseload or the burden on the other programs who are not participating in the retirement system,” CEO for the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence Angela Yannelli said. “They’ll have to pick up the burden of being able to handle and provide those services for those that are feeling that impact.”

House Bill 8 is their solution. It allows nonhazardous employers within the retirement system to pay a fixed dollar amount per employee over 30 years, instead of a constantly changing percentage.

“We can budget for that,” Yannelli said. “It’s something that is doable.”

It passed unanimously in the State House of Representatives, and now they’re hoping for that same show of bipartisan support in the Senate.

Some of the opposition to the bill is questioning its cost. But, supporters argue the cost of losing those critical services and possibly entire shelters outweighs that.

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