EDITORIAL: Domestic Abuse Funding cuts threaten victim safety net

Mar. 12—Funding cuts to domestic violence victim programs seem as much under the radar as the crime itself.

But impending budget cuts are the reality for CADA in Mankato, the domestic violence shelter that serves nine counties in the region. The nonprofit organization faces a 25% cut in federal funding, amounting to $230,000 a year, while its number of calls for service have nearly doubled since the onset of the pandemic from 4,500 to 8,800.

The state tried to shore up funding last year, but that fell through as Democrats and Republicans couldn't come to agreement on a public safety bill. CADA and other victim services are not funded by state and local taxes. They rely on fund s collected as part of court case fines and restitution, grants and donations.

The cut in federal/state funding comes from a reduction of funds from the Office of Justice Programs authorized through the Victims of Crime Act. The Trump administration changed policies and did not prosecute as many high profile crimes in which restitution was paid and so CADA is just now feeling the effects of that as funding typically lags by a few years.

The group's funding has not increased in eight years, and it's getting to the point where it will have to cut services, said Executive Director Jason Mack.

Even if the group gets flat funding, it will face increased costs of inflation and will have to increase wages, which start at $16 an hour for people who have to work on trauma cases 40 hours a week.

The Minnesota Legislature is considering bills that would provide $25 million a year to all victims groups, not just domestic violence victims, and that would help backfill a loss of $11 million per year in federal funding. Even if that funding is approved, victims groups would have to compete for the grants.

The bills are being heard in both House and Senate public safety committees and could be included in the overall public safety bills.

We would urge area Republican and Democratic legislators to get behind these bills. Domestic violence is not a partisan issue. It is a community issue that deserves a community response.

Contact your local legislators

State representatives

District 18A

Rep. Jeff Brand (D), St. Peter

(651) 297-8145

E-mail: rep.jeff.brand@house.mn.gov

District 18B

Rep. Luke Frederick (DFL), Mankato

(651) 296-3248

E-mail: rep.luke.frederick@house.mn

District 19B

Rep. John Petersburg (R), Waseca

(651) 296-5368

E-mail: rep.john.petersburg@house.mn

District: 22A

Rep. Bjorn Olson (R), Fairmont

(651) 296-3240

E-mail: rep.bjorn.olson@house.mn.gov

District 22B

Rep. Brian Pfarr (R), Le Sueur

(651) 296-7065

E-mail: rep.brian.pfarr@house.mn

District 15B

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R), Hanska

(651) 296-9303

E-mail: rep.paul.torkelson@house.mn

State Senators

District 18

Sen. Nick A. Frentz (DFL), North Mankato

(651) 296-6153

E-mail: sen.nick.frentz@senate.mn

District 15

Sen. Gary H. Dahms (R), Redwood Falls

(651) 296-8138

E-mail: sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn

District 22

Sen. Rich Draheim (R), Madison Lake

(651) 296-5558

E-mail: sen.rich.draheim@senate.mn

District 19

Sen. John R. Jasinski (R), Faribault

(651) 296-0284

E-mail: sen.john.jasinski@senate.mn

District 23

Sen. Gene Dornink (R), Brownsdale

(651) 296-5240