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HOUSE REPUBLICANS DENOUNCE CASEY ADMINISTRATION

 HOUSE REPUBLICANS DENOUNCE CASEY ADMINISTRATION
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Two Republican legislators


have denounced the Casey administration and House Democratic leaders for preventing House consideration of Sen. Stewart Greenleaf's bill to re-enact the Crime Victims' Compensation Board and merge the board with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
 The complaint came from Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Lois Hagarty (R-Montgomery), Republican chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcomittee on Crime and Corrections.
 "Because the House leadership succumbed to pressure to protect politically appointed commissioners, who are full-time salaried employees of the Crime Victims' Compensation Board, the crime victims' compensation law will go out of existence on Dec. 31," Greenleaf said.
 The bill, as introduced in the Senate, made a number of improvements to the law as recommended by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and crime victims groups which testified before Greenleaf's committee. Greenleaf also inserted a provision which would have merged the board with the Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
 Hagarty introduced a merger bill in the House. She said she made the decision due to the damaging report issued by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee concluding that the board continued to have an abysmal record with regard to serving victims of violent crime.
 Greenleaf said he wanted to merge the board because he felt "it was time the General Assembly takes the sunset process seriously. We must do all we can to save tax dollars."
 Hagarty noted that when her committee had jurisdiction over sunset review of the Crime Victims' Compensation Board in 1984, it gave the board a five-year rather than the normal 10-year extension period because of strong concerns that the program was being poorly administered.
 "After the most recent review, it was clear that the board continues to face a number of substantial administrative and operational problems," Hagarty said. "For example, the national average to process a victim's compensation claim is 80 days. The board average in 1990 was 198 days. In some cases, claims took over 600 days to process.
 "Ever since the early 1980s, we have been attempting to address the mismanagement at the board by periodically amending the statute to stop inappropriate and unfair procedures by the board, but this most recent Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report, in addition to the testimony heard by Greenleaf, was compelling evidence that immediate action needed to be taken. The Greenleaf bill transfers the board to a well-respected, well-administered criminal justice agency whose primary responsibility is the issuance of grants to criminal justice entities throughout Pennsylvania -- the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency."
 The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report noted that an alternative to continuing the board would be to merge it with the commission.
 "Pennsylvania is only one of three states with a full-time board," Greenleaf noted. "The centralization of victims' compensation with the Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which currently administers the state Victim/Witness Assistance Program, would streamline victims' services, increase efficiency and decrease the cost of administration of the program because we will remove the full-time salaried positions of the three commissioners which, combined with benefits, amount to over $200,000 per year."
 Greenleaf said this background information is relevant to why the House Democratic leadership is refusing to free his bill from the Appropriations Committee and permit the House to vote on it.
 "It is clear that the House Democrats are protecting the political patronage jobs which lie with the three commissioner slots," Hagarty said. "By acting to protect vested political interests, the Democratic leadership is not only ignoring the demands of the citizens of Pennsylvania, which is to streamline and reduce the cost of government, it is also doing an extraordinary injustice to crime victims of Pennsylvania."
 Based on their legal staffs' analysis, Greenleaf and Hagarty said it's their strong concern that the Crime Victims' Compensation Act will go out of existence on Dec. 31.
 "This places our receipt of federal matching dollars, which are used to reimburse Pennsylvania crime victims, in jeopardy. It also makes questionable any action taken by the board from Dec. 31 until the Legislature would act to re-enact the statute," Hagarty said.
 Greenleaf and Hagarty said they firmly believe the votes existed on the House floor to support merger of the board with the commission and if Democratic leaders would have permitted a floor vote, the bill could have made its way quickly to the Governor's Office.
 "It is clear that the Casey administration, in conjunction with the House Democratic leadership, prevented the House from voting on final passage of the bill," they said.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/12/91
 /CONTACT: Rep. Lois Hagarty, 717-783-2063/ CO: Pennsylvania House of Representatives ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


KA -- PH010 -- 1826 12/12/91 09:56 EST
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Date:Dec 12, 1991
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