Our View: Abuse victims need help, not red tape

Setting up a "one-stop shop" where domestic assault victims can seek help is a practical step toward curbing violence.

Patterned after Hennepin County's Domestic Abuse Service Center, the Olmsted County office will be on the fifth floor of the courthouse in close proximity during arraignments. The goal is to make trusting connections with the victims, letting them know all the services available — shelter, child protection, legal assistance, financial assistance or family therapy programs.

The Olmsted County Attorney's Office saw 335 cases in 2012. Through June 20 of this year, the number already was 189.

Last year, more than 63,000 victims sought services from Minnesota domestic violence programs. It's an astounding number, but it represents just a fraction of the cases. Advocates say that only one out of every five victims seeks services, causing the cycle of violence to continue.

Fearing they have nowhere else to turn, many victims ultimately refuse to testify against their abusers, choosing instead to return to an abusive relationship. That decision puts themselves and their children at risk.



Everyone loves a winner

University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague didn't get to his current position by being oblivious to public sentiment, so it's not surprising that he will seek no public funds for a proposed $190 million upgrade to the university's athletic facilities. The improving economy notwithstanding, there's zero chance that our stadium-weary Legislature would allow taxpayer dollars to be spent on a new dining area for athletes or for a new place for the Gophers basketball teams to work on their pick-and-roll plays.

That means the $190 million must be raised through individual and corporate donations, which will be a steep hill to climb. It was one thing to raise $90 million for TCF Bank stadium — a public venue that donors and students can see and enjoy on a sunny September afternoon — but it will be quite another to raise double that amount for facilities that will be for the exclusive use of scholarship athletes.

That's where Jerry Kill and Richard Pitino come in. Wealthy alumni from across the country will be far more likely to write big checks when the U's football team and men's basketball teams are competitive and garnering some airtime from the major television networks.

For that to happen, U athletes will need to overachieve. Kill's team must earn signature wins against teams such as Wisconsin and Michigan. Pitino's squad must bring energy, enthusiasm and grit to the court against some of the best teams in the country, then be a factor in both the Big 10 Tournament and March Madness.

Today's U of M athletes won't be here to enjoy the new practice facilities, but their performances will go a long way toward determining whether their successors will.



Economic debate will continue

DFLers and Republicans disagree — no surprise there — about who should receive credit for the $463 million surplus in Minnesota's latest revenue report. Is it a holdover benefit from the austerity imposed by the GOP, or is the state's economy heating up as a result of the increased public investment under a DFL-led Legislature?

Regardless, there's no denying there is a certain artificiality in the surplus. The Minnesota Management and Budget office said 70 percent of the extra revenue came from higher-than-expected individual income tax payments, much of it from wealthy taxpayers who shifted income from future years into 2012 to avoid the higher income and capital gains tax rates. It's a nice windfall for the state, but it's a one-time deal.

A new budget cycle began July 1 with $2.1 billion in tax increases; the next revenue reports will be very interesting, as we'll begin to see the fruits of the DFL's labor.

But for now, we choose to focus on the really good news; namely, that the surplus will allow the state to make a big dent in the debt it owes to our public schools. We hold out hopes that within a year, the entire $874 million in "borrowed" money will be repaid — and we also hope that no future Legislature will choose to balance the state's books by putting schools in a bind.

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