Texas Budget Cuts Slash Trial Witness Aid

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Texas state budget cuts are forcing prosecutors to think twice before summoning some witnesses for criminal trials because funding to pay their travel expenses is drying up, the Dallas Morning News reports. Lawmakers slashed the witness travel budget by 50 percent last year. With more than four months to go in the fiscal year, counties have exceeded by $39,000 the $600,000 allotted for witness travel.

The state is reimbursing counties by shifting money from other budgets, but it’s unclear how long that will last.

The rates of reimbursement for some expenses are being whittled down: Despite rising gasoline prices, mileage reimbursement was cut from 35 cents to 25 cents last year. The maximum meal expense for a witness’ last travel day was reduced from $30 to $15. Collin County victim services coordinator Susan Webb said some witness expenses are generated in most trials. “We use the fund all the time,” she said.

Link: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/texassouthwest/stories/042904dntexreimburse.50899.html

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