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1986 NOVA Newsl. 1 (1986)

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     Ne wslet

                        Volume  10, Number  1


  January 1986

Historic Budget Measure Creates

Probable Crisis for Victim Services

  On  December 12, 1985, exactly
fourteen months after he signed in-
to law the Victims of Crime Act and
Justice Assistance Act, President
Reagan  signed a federal budget
measure that requires the elimina-
tion of the federal deficit within
five years. The new law, commonly
known  by the names  of its prin-
cipal co-sponsors-Phil Gramm (R-
TX), Warren B. Rudman  (R-NH),
and  Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC)-
threatens the continuation of any
federal support for victim services.
  While  most victim advocates,
and quite a few federal officials,
spent  the Christmas  holidays
oblivious to the implications of the
measure,  its impact- immediate
and breathtaking -was perceived
very early in the new year. For it
was announced  on January 15 that
the automatic provisions of the
new law require a cut of $5.8 billion
in non-defense spending and an
equal amount in defense spending
in the fiscal year which began last
October 1, cuts that will take effect
March  1, if not sooner.
  Sooner may already be here for
one  federally-supported victim
assistance program funded under

In   This Issue:
*  NOVA   Faces Fiscal
 * S.G. Recommendations
   on Crime  of Rape....... 3
 * From  the National
   Headquarters   ..........7

the Justice Assistance Act (JAA).
An  informal freeze has curtailed
most grant-making to national sup-
port groups such as NOVA   (see
related story), and that freeze may
become a formal rescission with-
in a matter of weeks.
  Further, there are published
reports that the largest victim-
assistance program, the $70 million
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), is on
some  budget-cutters' priority list
for reduction if not total elimina-

Trying to Avoid  the Automatic
    It is the automatic features of
the bipartisan Gramm-Rudman-
Hollings act that have drawn the
most attention. Applied to the cur-
rent fiscal year, those cuts amount
to 4.9 percent of already-appropri-
ated defense budgets and 4.3 per-
cent of non-defense spending, the
percentages to be applied equally
across such individual programs as
VOCA   and JAA.
  More  ominously,  should  the
fiscal 1987 budget passed by Con-
gress contain about the same spen-
ding levels as the current year's,
the automatic cuts would be in the
range of 20-30 percent, according to
published estimates.
  No federal policymakers want to
see their priority programs slash-
ed at all, and certainly not to that
degree. To take the most obvious
example, the President and many
members  of Congress are deter-
mined  to keep defense spending

somewhat  above current levels.
  Thus, to make spending cuts on
purpose  instead of by  a fixed
percentage  spread equally, the
policymakers are searching for pro-
grams  they  can  cut far more
substantially or even eliminate.
The savings produced by such ac-
tions would then cause the surviv-
ing programs  to receive a much
smaller automatic cutback or none
at all.
  It is the elimination-by-design
process, rather than the automatic
cuts, that most  threatens  the
federal victim-assistance programs.
According to some press accounts,
administration officials are trying to
get a jump on the cost-reduction
process by slowing down spending
not only in three programs  ad-
ministered by the Justice Depart-
ment  but  in some  thirty-seven
other domestic programs as well.
  Even if the freezes (or spending
slow-downs)  are lifted in the cur-
rent fiscal year (only Congress can
ultimately de-fund a valid spen-
ding program), they offer a good
prediction of what programs the
administration will ask Congress to
eliminate in shaping next year's
budget. Those requests will appear
in the administration budget pro-
posals on February 3.

Two  Perspectives on the Victim-
Assistance Programs
  It will no doubt be argued that
the costs  of both  the Justice
Assistance Act (around $70 million,
of which about $5 million is being

This newsletter is published with funding from the Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice (Grant number 85-SN-CX-0006). Views expressed in the
Newsletter do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the U.S. Justice Department or of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

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