05.04.15

Senators Direct More Money From Crime Fund to Victims

A 450% Increase in Colorado Compared to Fiscal Year 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Victims of crime will have access to hundreds of millions more dollars next year under a provision included in the budget resolution being considered Tuesday. 

In response to calls from U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the budget resolution provides an estimated $2.5 billion in funds to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes without using taxpayer dollars.

The Crime Victims Fund supports services to victims of crime, through direct compensation to victims and by funding Child Advocacy Centers, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other victim service groups. The Crime Victims Fund receives no taxpayer dollars; it is funded by fines and penalties collected from convicted criminals. The law requires that money in the Crime Victims Fund must be used only to assist crime victims. For over a decade, billions of dollars have come into the fund but those dollars have not been distributed to victims.  Instead, the foregone distribution to victims is used as a budget gimmick which pretends to reduce federal spending.

The budget resolution includes a provision, modeled after legislation introduced by Sens. Toomey, Ayotte, Corker, Crapo, and Gardner, that stops Congress from diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from victims of crime. 

“Each year, crime victims go without services they desperately need,” said Sen. Toomey.  “If Congress followed the law, these victims would have access to hundreds of millions more dollars each year.  It is past time for Congress to stop balancing the budget on the backs of crime victims.

“I am pleased Congress took a crucial first step toward righting years of injustice against victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.  But this is just a one-year fix.  I will work with my colleagues to pass a permanent solution that ensures crime victims receive the funds that they desperately need.” 

“This provision in the budget resolution limits a Washington accounting gimmick that for too long has prevented crime victims from receiving urgently needed funds and services,” said Sen. Ayotte. “This is an important step in ensuring that the Crime Victims Fund is used to provide services to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.”

“The Crime Victims Fund was created to help those victimized by crime, but unfortunately it has been used as a slush fund for unrelated budget items for over a decade,” said Sen. Corker. “This provision will help address one of the many gimmicks used by Congress, and I am pleased it was included in the budget resolution.”

“For too long, Congress has used the Crime Victims Fund for purposes other than assisting victims of crime,” said Sen. Crapo.  “The inclusion of this budget provision is an important first step in restoring the Fund to its intended purpose —providing direct assistance and access to services for crime victims and their families.”

“It’s important that the Crime Victims Fund is used to help crime victims,” said Sen. Gardner. “Using these funds as an accounting gimmick instead of for their intended purpose is a disservice to victims and taxpayers alike. I’m proud to support this effort to protect victims’ assistance funding this year, and I look forward to working with Senator Toomey, Senator Ayotte, and others on a permanent fix.”

Background

Congress created the Crime Victims Fund in 1984, based on the principle that fines and penalties the federal government collects from those who commit crime should be used to assist victims of crime. The Crime Victims Fund is funded solely by fines and penalties collected in criminal court and private donations. No taxpayer dollars are involved.  Since fiscal year 2000, Congress has diverted over $10 billion from the Crime Victims Fund—each year, taking hundreds of millions of dollars that, under federal law, are required to go to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes to make the federal balance sheet look better. 

The FY 2016 budget resolution limits the ability of big spenders in Congress to use the Crime Victims Fund as a budget gimmick, and ensures that crime victims receive the funds they desperately need.

Nationally, crime victims will have access to an estimated $2.5 billion, or two-and-a-half times the amount the President requested in his budget proposal.

In Colorado, this provision would make more than $34 million available for victims’ assistance, a 450% increase from fiscal year 2014, when just $7.5 million was granted.

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