Highlights budgeting gimmick that withholds money from victims of crime
Washington, D.C. – The Senate Budget Committee today held the first session of a two-day markup to consider the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Resolution. Today’s session consisted of opening statements only. Along with discussing how the positive economic news resulting tax reform and other recent policy successes allow for greater flexibility in tackling our fiscal challenges, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo also highlighted his work in eliminating a budgeting gimmick withholding money from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). Senator Crapo, a member of the Committee, expressed support for Chairman Mike Enzi’s proposal to zero out Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs) in his opening statement. Senator Crapo stressed the importance of ensuring proper use of the CVF such that funds directly go to the victims of crime.
Video of Senator Crapo’s opening statement can be viewed by clicking the image above. Text of the opening statement, as prepared, is below.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate you leading this committee forward with our responsibility to produce and process a budget resolution.
Before discussing this budget resolution before us, it may be useful to look at how our fiscal situation has changed since the last time this committee approved a budget resolution in 2017.
According to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that compared its January 2017 forecast against its recent January 2019 forecast, the cumulative increase in projected GDP in our economy over the 2017-2027 period is $7.17 trillion.
Of that, CBO notes that the 2017 tax reform law accounts for a more than $2.3 trillion increase in our projected economic growth over the next decade. Other policy changes enacted in the last Congress, and by the Trump Administration, account for another $1.3 trillion in projected economic growth.
Mr. Chairman, it wasn’t that long ago that we were being told by everyone that low growth in our economy was the new normal, and projections were showing sub-2 percent annual growth as far as the eye could see.
Since the enactment of tax reform, economic growth has averaged 3.1 percent, and the real benefits are being seen by American families and workers across the spectrum.
Job creation is up. Unemployment is low. Wages are rising at the fastest rate in decades, particularly for lower income workers.
This good economic news will also provide policymakers with greater flexibility to address our other important fiscal challenges.
CBO estimates that a 0.1 percent annual increase in GDP over 10 years would result in $307 billion in deficit reduction.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that this budget proposes additional important steps to address our debt and deficit challenges from the spending side.
I particularly appreciate and support your proposal to zero out CHIMPs, or Changes in Mandatory Programs.
It was exactly 10 years ago that I first raised the issue of CHIMPs at the Fiscal Year 2010 budget resolution markup in this committee, to my knowledge the first time anyone had sought to expose and work to eliminate this gimmick.
My efforts initially focused on the Crime Victims Fund.
For more than three decades, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) has been providing critical funding to victims’ service organizations and direct compensation to victims of crime.
These grants come from a fund that is financed not by taxpayer dollars, but through fines, forfeitures and penalties, collected from those who commit crimes, with fund resources then going to help those who have been victims of all types of crime.
VOCA-funded state victim assistance grants support direct services, such as emergency shelter, crisis intervention, and counseling over 3.7 million victims of all types of crimes every year.
As of 2018, the VOCA fund had a balance of more than $12 billion.
Starting in 2000, Congress placed an annual cap on how much could be spent out of the fund to support and protect crime victims. In part, this was done to ensure a stable, long-term funding stream to protect against annual fluctuations in deposits.
However, some policymakers also saw this cap as an opportunity to create a gimmick to allow the government to spend billions more each year on programs unrelated to crime victims by offsetting that additional spending against the VOCA fund balance that was held back by the cap each year.
As a result of this gimmick, Congress has spent tens of billions of non-taxpayer, non-general fund dollars on unrelated programs, at the expense of victims of crime.
My efforts over the years to bring attention to and eliminate this gimmick have generated an increased amount of bipartisan support, just as the problem itself has been a bipartisan problem over the years.
Progress in fully eliminating the CHIMP gimmick, not just for the Crime Victims Fund, but with regard to all similar CHIMPs, has been gradual, much slower than I would have hoped.
Senator Toomey has also been a strong champion in pushing to eliminate all CHIMPs, and others from both sides have also been supportive of this effort.
Progress has certainly been made.
And I certainly appreciate your decision, Mr. Chairman, to propose fully zeroing out all CHIMPs in your budget.
The budget before us would build on the strong economic foundation we have built in the last two years and take some important steps on the spending side to move our fiscal posture in the right direction.
I appreciate your leadership, Mr. Chairman, and look forward to supporting this budget.
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