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Sexual Violence Funding Takes Over Conversation at N.H. Senate Budget Hearing

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
The House Chamber was packed Tuesday with people advocating for what they say should be the state's spending priorities.

Hundreds of people came to the State House Tuesday to advise Senate budget writers on how to craft New Hampshire’s next two year spending plan.

People advocated for more money for developmental disability services, substance abuse treatment, mental health – even tourism.

But for the first two and a half hours, the conversation focused largely on one topic: funding for domestic and sexual violence prevention and treatment.

The Senate Finance Committee heard from advocates and victims asking for a million dollar increase from what Governor Chris Sununu proposed in his budget plan. Also testifying was former state Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn, who said when her daughter was sexually assaulted at 19, she didn’t have access to the services she needed.

“Our budget is going to be around twelve billion dollars when all is said and done. A million dollars is eight-thousandths of one percent of that," Horn told the committee. "How we allocate funds as a state tells the world who we are as a people.”

Sununu’s budget proposal funds services for domestic and sexual violence prevention and treatment at the same level as last year. According to advocates, spending on these programs has not been restored since being cut six years ago – forcing crisis centers statewide to turn away thousands of people each year.

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