Beaver County Times: U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey Opposes Cuts To Victim Advocacy Programs In Federal Budget

“While Senator Pat Toomey keeps fighting for justice for crime victims, Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty remain silent while victim advocacy programs are cut from the federal budget. Both Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty were both vocal supporters of this budget plan, but they’ve failed to explain why they chose to support taking money from a fund established for crime victims.

“Senator Toomey is working with Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation to find a solution that will protect crime victims. If Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty won’t speak up for crime victims as candidates, how could we trust them to be leaders in the Senate?” — PA GOP Communications Director Megan Sweeney

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey opposes cuts to victim advocacy programs in federal budget
Beaver County Times
Alyssa Choiniere
November 10, 2015

A reallocation of victims advocacy funding provided in the Bipartisan Budget Act was described as “appalling” by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville.

The budget, which passed the House with 266 to 167 votes and the Senate with 64 to 35 votes in late October increases defense and domestic spending by $80 million. It suspends the debt ceiling limit until March 2017.

Legislators who voted in support of the budget act said it benefits seniors, averts cuts to military and avoids a government shutdown.

But Toomey voted in opposition, saying the budget robs victims by diverting funding from the Crime Victims Fund.

“The deal raids $1.5 billion that is designed to help the victims of crime,” he said during a telephone conference Tuesday afternoon.

The fund supports advocacy programs for victims of crimes including child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. Funds are generated from penalties and fines paid by convicted criminals.

“There is not a dime of taxpayers’ money in the Crime Victims Fund,” Toomey said.

The fund was established in 1984. Beginning in 2000, a funding cap was established. The cap can fluctuate from year to year, according to the Office of Justice Programs website.

Jennifer Storm, victim advocate of the Commonwealth, said the cap was increased last year, which would have allowed for expanded services in areas of Pennsylvania where needs are unmet.

“There are so many crime victims in Pennsylvania that we are not reaching,” she said.

She said these include areas with limited resources and victims of crimes including human trafficking and male and elderly victims of sexual assault.

She described the budget cut as a “re-victimization,” saying the fund provides services which include preparing victims for the legal process.

“Every victim deserves a voice,” she said. “That voice often comes in the form of crime victim advocates.”

Angela Parker-Quarles, supervisor of Dauphin County Children & Youth Services, said her family used advocacy programs when her goddaughter was murdered by her husband. Tarina Fields Price was stabbed 27 times, then shot her in the eye, she said.

“I hope we can all agree that the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of crime victims,” she said.

Both women spoke in support of Toomey’s bill, Fairness for Crime Victims Act of 2015, which he introduced in June. He said it would “permanently stop Congress from raiding the Crime Victims Fund.”

To read the entire article by Alyssa Choiniere, please click here.