WASHINGTON—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today asked Congress for $486 million for Fiscal Year 2015, the same level of funding it requested the year before.
“Our request to Congress balances record-high demand for civil legal aid against the realities of the federal budget environment,” said LSC President James J. Sandman.
Nearly 93 percent of the request, more than $451 million, would be devoted to basic field grants that fund the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The budget request also proposes $5 million for Technology Initiative Grants; $1 million for student loan repayment assistance to legal aid lawyers; $19.5 million for management and grants oversight; and $4.2 million for the Office of Inspector General.
LSC also proposes $5 million to expand a Pro Bono Innovation Fund, an initiative first funded by Congress in FY 2014. This fund supports new and innovative projects that promote and enhance pro bono initiatives throughout the country. LSC's national Pro Bono Task Force urged the creation of a Pro Bono Innovation Fund in its 2012 report.
The White House recommended $430 million in funding for the Legal Services Corporation in its budget delivered to Congress today. That is the same amount it requested last year.
The President’s budget also contains a new $56 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” to be paid for through a series of tax loophole closures and various spending reforms. The new initiative includes additional funding for LSC. The amount of that funding has not been released.
“The President clearly understands the importance of adequately funding civil legal assistance, even in these tough financial times,” said LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi. “I am grateful that he has proposed a nearly 18 percent increase over current funding and has included us in his new budget initiative.”
Congress appropriated $365 million to LSC in FY 2014. If funding had kept pace with inflation when compared to its 1995 appropriation of $400 million, LSC’s funding this year would be more than $600 million.
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was established by the Congress in 1974 to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.