More Missouri agencies who help crime victims are expressing their concern about a shift in federal funding for victims’ programs, but at least one of Missouri’s senators says that funding source is secure long-term.
The budget deal Congress and the president agreed to shifted 1.5-billion dollars out of the fund created by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), that comes from fines paid by those convicted of federal crimes.
Emily van Schenkhof with Missouri Kids First says almost all child advocacy centers get money from that fund.
“This funding is supposed to support victims of crime. We absolutely know that we are still not funding services for victims of crimes at the level we should, so the idea that we should take money away from that is very concerning, and you do wonder, ‘Is this just one time? Will this happen again? What does this mean for the future,” van Schenkhof told Missourinet.
Missouri Prosecutors’ Association Executive Director Jason Lamb says Missouri prosecutors also rely on that fund. They don’t have dedicated money for crime victims’ services, so they seek grants.
“Whatever can’t be paid for at the local level, prosecutors have traditional tried for competitive grants through VOCA and other crime victim opportunities,” said Lamb.
Missouri’s senators split their votes on that budget deal, but both say they did not support taking that money from the crime victims’ fund. Both also say the future of that fund is secure.
Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D) office, in a statement, said she did not support that provision on the budget deal, though she did vote for the deal.
“She held her nose to vote for the overall deal because it was a compromise which prevented a federal default that would have crippled our economy-but that doesn’t in any way detract from her commitment to fighting for more resources for victims of crime.”
Senator Roy Blunt (R) did not vote for that budget deal. His office said similar transfers have been made before but the money has always been replaced.
Missourinet reached out to all of Missouri’s members of the U.S. House. The only one to reply was southeast Missouri Congressman Jason Smith. He was already critical of the deal, and called the VOCA transfer one of its, “many terrible provisions.”
In a statement, Smith said, “It’s heartbreaking that the CVF was directly raided as a ‘budget gimmick’ to the detriment of victims. Just last week I was at the Child Advocacy Center in West Plains witnessing first-hand the real impact these budget cuts would have. This is just one more example of bad policy jammed through Congress at the last-minute avoiding regular order – it’s no way to conduct the people’s business.”