July 27, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $28 million budget increase for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) included in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill for FY 2008. This 8 percent increase, which would bring funding for the Corporation to a total of $377 million, would be LSC's second consecutive increase and a $50 million gain over two years. LSC is an independent, non-profit Corporation created by the Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, lauded the increase saying, "I also am pleased that the Legal Service Corporation is funded at a level $66 million higher than the President's request. All I can say about that is that it is about time."
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Chairman of the CJS Subcommittee, said about LSC funding, "If equal protection under the law means anything, it means equal access to the law."
In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 12 percent or $41.4 million increase in the Corporation's budget for next year.
These proposed increases are, in part, recognition of LSC's groundbreaking report, Documenting the Justice Gap: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, which was completed in September 2005. The Justice Gap Report documents that nationwide, for every eligible person helped by LSC-funded programs, another is turned away. Fifty percent of those actually seeking help are turned away for one primary reason: lack of resources.
LSC President Helaine M. Barnett said, "I would like to thank Chairman Mollohan and Ranking Member Frelinghuysen for working to make this increase possible. An additional $28 million will allow legal aid programs throughout the country to serve thousands more low-income people faced with daunting civil legal problems."
The main source of funding for civil legal aid, LSC gives grants to independent, local programs--in 2007, 138 programs with more than 900 offices nationwide. Grants are awarded through a competitive process. The size of the grant is based on the number of people living in poverty in a given state or geographic service area.
LSC's bipartisan, 11-member Board of Directors is appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate.