Steep declines in the Texas state Crime Victims' Compensation Fund mean that some victim services programs might have to be eliminated or reduced, says the Austin American-Statesman. The fund, which reimburses victims of violent crime for expenses not covered by insurance or restitution, has seen a declining balance since Texas lawmakers decided about a decade ago to tap into the fund to support programs serving battered women, sexual assault victims, and abused children.
Two years ago, amid a state budget crunch, legislative leaders used the fund to pay for victim services programs that had previously been paid for from the state's general fund. As a result, since 2001, the fund's balance of $269 million has slowly eroded and will be nearly depleted by the end of August. The state attorney general's office, which administers the fund, has said legislative action will be needed to preserve the fund's financial stability. Grants awarded to victim services organizations might have to be reduced by 57 percent, said Marla Johnson of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center.