Senate panel excludes sexual assault program funding
LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Roger Hauck on Tuesday voiced his disappointment after the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Health and Human Services excluded funding put forth in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s original budget recommendation to provide more resources and increase medical training to help sexual assault victims.
“We’re looking at over $35 billion in government spending in the DHHS budget alone, and we couldn’t prioritize another $100,000 to support sexual assault training programs at hospitals and improve access for victims of such crimes? That’s .00029% of the spending we’re already considering, and I think that sends a strong and upsetting message to victims,” said Hauck, R-Mt. Pleasant, who sits on the DHHS subcommittee.
Hauck, who previously supported a $102,600 appropriation for the program, said additional funding would be used for the continuation of the sexual assault examiner’s program that provides training and compensation for nurses who assist sexual assault victims. The funding is used to support 24-hour care and assistance, but also to train nurses to conduct private exams to document, collect and process any forensic evidence after an assault. These trained professionals also provide crisis intervention support and work with counselors to provide follow-up medical care.
The funding in question would have been dedicated to training additional staff at McLaren Central Michigan Hospital, which hosts one of the only programs of its kind in Central Michigan. The hospital offers care to victims from many surrounding counties including Isabella, Gratiot, Clare, Gladwin, Roscommon, Mecosta, Osceola, and parts of Genesee, Midland and Bay counties.
“This training can make a critical difference in many cases, and I would like to think this is a cause we could all get behind quite easily,” Hauck said. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month — I think this is an appropriate time to show victims that we are standing in their corner and are willing to provide only the best care to those who have survived such horrific attacks.
“I was disappointed to see this issue pushed under the rug by the Democratic majority, especially after receiving such strong support from the governor. I hope we can revisit this and get the funding for this training back on the table and into the hands of the medical professionals who will use it to help those who need it most.”