Committee reviews compensations to crime victims
AUSTIN - The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Crime Victims Fund met today at the State Capitol. As part of its interim charge 5, the committee must review the sources of revenue dedicated to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and the purposes for which the fund is expended. Its final report should recommend ways to ensure that future revenues adequately address statutorily provided spending priorities.
The Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund helps victims and their families when they cannot pay for the financial cost of the crime suffered. Up to $50,000 may be paid to the victim, family member, or to service providers on behalf of the victim. Expenses paid range from medical, hospital, physical and psychiatric therapy to relocation expenses for domestic violence victims. The fund obtains its money through the collection of court costs and fees from convicted offenders, most of them of traffic violations.
Committee members heard testimony from representatives of the State Auditor's Office and the Attorney General's Office, which administers the Fund. Senator Barrientos enquired about the backlog in the program, which at the moment has reached two months of applications introduced and waiting to be processed.
The committee also heard public testimony, with some victims themselves praising the job done by emergency shelters. These organizations give immediate and much needed services to victims of assault and abuse.
The Finance Committee Chair is Senator Rodney Ellis, and vice-chair is Senator Chris Harris. Other members include Senators Gonzalo Barrientos, Robert Duncan, Troy Fraser, Mike Jackson, Jon Lindsay, Eddie Lucio Jr., Steve Ogden, Todd Staples, Carlos F. Truan, John Whitmire, and Judith Zaffirini. The committee recessed subject to the call of the chair.