TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher and Loretta Weinberg which would create the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency (VCCA) within the Department of the Treasury was unanimously approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“Historically, the Victims of Crime Compensation Board has been a political patronage spot, but this bill would serve as a step in the right direction toward returning the Board to its original mission – helping the victims of violent crime,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer.
“After a long length of time I am glad to see this bill moving once again on behalf of victims of violent crime who need real services,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “The majority of the positions in this new agency would be unpaid, freeing up hundreds of thousands of dollars each year so that they can be put to use benefiting the victims.”
The Senators’ bill, S-218, would establish the VCCA to financially compensate victims of violent crime for expenses they suffer as a result of the crime. The new agency would replace the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) and transfer its duties to the VCCA. The bill would also establish a Victims of Crime Compensation Review board, to review appeals and decisions of the VCCA, and if necessary, award supplemental compensation to victims.
The VCCA would be comprised of five unpaid members, each being appointed to a three-year term. Currently, the members of the Victims of Crime Compensation Board receive salaries of $110,000 and are eligible for tenure after serving 10 years.
“Currently, the VCCB is running out of money, which means that before long, it would have to dip into the funds reserved for victims to cover the salaries and operating costs of the membership,” said Senator Karcher. “This legislation would work to make sure that the victims receive all of the money allocated to them under the VCCA’s budget.”
According to the State Department of Legislative Services, by revamping the VCCA to make the Board positions unpaid, the State would save $447,000 a year, said Senator Weinberg.
This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.