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Editorial: Keep domestic violence spending in state budget

6:13 PM, Feb. 13, 2013  |  Comments
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Gov. Scott Walker's attention to domestic violence is welcomed as he proposed $11 million in funding in his next budget.

Walker has been strategically releasing major proposals that he'll include in his biennial budget, which he is scheduled to release Wednesday. He has already released initiatives on DNA collection, economic development, hunting and mental health funding.

On Wednesday, he announced his proposals on protecting victims of domestic violence and expanding Medicaid.

His domestic violence proposal calls for $10.6 million to build a Family Justice Center in Milwaukee, in partnership with the Children's Hospital and the Sojourner Family Peace Center. The governor's office said it will be the first in the country to have a Child Advocacy Center with a Family Justice Center.

He also proposed $560,000 for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Center in Madison.

In addition, as part of his law enforcement initiatives, Walker called for GPS tracking of violent domestic abusers.

"Victims of domestic violence need our support to get the resources and protection they need," Walker said in a statement.

We agree. Additional funding to combat domestic violence is needed. Experts believe that for every reported incident, four go unreported. So while a new report last month from the state Justice Department showed a slight decrease in reported domestic abuse incidents - from 29,941 in 2010 to 28,539 in 2011 - we know that's not a full accounting.

That report tallies only those cases reported to law enforcement and referred to the district attorneys' offices. In Brown County, there were 1,089 reported incidents in 2011, with a 79.2 percent arrest rate. The fourth most populous county had the fifth most incidents.

And we'll never have a full accounting until the stigma of domestic abuse is lifted. When victims aren't embarrassed to report it or feel they won't be protected if they report abuse, maybe we'll get a truer sense of the problem.

It's a problem with tragic consequences. In October, a man with a domestic violence arrest and a restraining order against him killed his wife and two others at a Brookfield spa. Incidents such as these can have the negative effect of making victims less likely to speak up.

That's why it's important for the governor to talk about the issue and address the needs for facilities that serve victims of domestic violence.

The proposals Walker announced Wednesday will be part of his two-year budget, and we hope they make the cut and are part of an overall spending plan that governor signs.

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