House proposal would cut civil legal aid by $104 million

Funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) would be cut by 26 percent in Fiscal Year 2012 under a proposal announced by the House Appropriations Committee today. The Committee bill proposes a $300 million budget for LSC—rolling back LSC funding to a level not seen since 1999.

Basic field grants, which are currently provided to 136 nonprofit civil legal aid programs across the nation, would be cut to $274.4 million, a 27.5 percent reduction from current funding of $378.6 million.

LSC’s preliminary estimates show that about 235,000 low-income Americans eligible for civil legal assistance at LSC-funded programs would be turned away if the Committee proposal were enacted.

“The proposed cut would prove to be especially damaging to low-income persons whose health and safety are at risk—the elderly, the victims of domestic violence, the disabled, children, veterans and others—by denying them access to justice,” LSC President James J. Sandman said.

“At LSC programs, requests for assistance are increasing. The poverty population eligible for civil legal assistance has grown by 17 percent since 2008, to an all-time high of 63 million Americans. And funding from non-federal sources is decreasing. This is not the time to undercut the fundamental American commitment to equal justice for all,”  Sandman said.

To read the entire press release, click here.

Maryland Legal Aid is a grantee of LSC.

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