Berkley Seeks to Protect Funding for Crime Victims From Bush Budget Grab
White House Plan Would Loot Fund to Aid Crime Victims Collected from Criminals
(April 22, 2005 - Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) this week joined in a bipartisan effort to stop White House plans to divert $1.3 billion in funding for crime victims to the general treasury. In a letter to the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Berkley and other lawmakers outlined their objections to the White House proposal which would drain the Victims Crime Fund, a pool of money collected through payments from criminals that is used to compensate victims and to provide victim services.
"These are not taxpayer dollars or surplus funding that the Bush budget is seeking to tap. This is funding collected from criminals that is then used to compensate victims and to provide important services such as rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters," said Berkley
President Bush's Fiscal Year 2006 Budget calls for $1.3 billion to be diverted from the Crime Victims Fund, which was established under the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). If the Bush plan is allowed to move forward, beginning in fiscal year 2007, the VOCA fund would not be able to provide Nevada and other states with money to aid victims without using tax revenues.
"It is wrong to divert funding that rightfully belongs to those who have been victims of crime in order to pay for other spending in the President's budget. There is bipartisan opposition to this proposal and crime victims will be penalized if we do not prevent the loss of $1.3 billion in funding under next year's budget," Berkley said.
The Crime Victims Fund was established in 1984 and money in the fund supports VOCA services. Funds are drawn from criminal offender fees, not taxpayer dollars. VOCA funds aid victims of crime through compensation to assist with medical, court and funeral costs and other expenses.
VOCA funds cover services to 3.6 million crime victims a year through the roughly 4,400 agencies that rely on the Crime Victims Fund. VOCA is also the only federal program that offers aid to victims of all types of crimes, including homicide fatalities, drunk driving, elder financial exploitation, identity theft, robbery and rape.
A copy of the letter signed by Berkley to the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee is available upon request.