President Obama requested $402 million for the Legal Services Corporation in the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget he sent to Congress Feb. 13.
The president’s request would increase LSC funding by $54 million from the current appropriation of $348 million, which was a significant reduction over the past two years from the program’s fiscal year 2010 level of $420 million.
The LSC provides direct legal services to approximately one million constituents struggling to get by on incomes below or near the poverty line and is the single largest provider of civil legal aid in the nation. The program distributes 95 percent of its federal appropriation to 135 programs that support 900 legal aid offices across the country. Reductions in funding from the federal government and other sources are resulting in staff layoffs at LSC-funded programs that may total more than 1,000 by the end of the year, according to an LSC survey.
Expressing the ABA’s strong support for the LSC late last year, ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III vowed that the ABA will work diligently with Congress to seek restoration of the LSC funding that has been lost in recent years.
“Congress must weigh the need to shrink our nation’s burgeoning budget deficit against the fundamental needs of low-income citizens in the justice system.”