March 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC - The Legal Services Corporation will receive a $40 million increase in funding for fiscal 2009 as part of an omnibus appropriations bill signed into law by the President on March 11.
Under the new appropriation, LSC will operate on a budget of $390 million. Of that total, $365.8 million will be made available to 137 LSC-funded legal aid programs across the nation.
"The additional funding is critical to every one of our programs," LSC President Helaine M. Barnett said. "Low-income individuals and families are increasingly at risk during this economic downturn and our programs are overwhelmed with requests for help."
The Senate approved the fiscal 2009 omnibus bill on March 10 and the House approved the funding measure on Feb. 25. Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate had recommended the $40 million increase for LSC's budget.
"We greatly appreciate the hard work of the Senate, and thank Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, members of Congress and their staffs, for making this funding increase possible," Helaine Barnett said.
The fiscal 2009 appropriation includes funding for technology grants that expand access to legal information, for a loan repayment program that helps new lawyers burdened with education-related debt, and for increased oversight of legal aid grants.
While the additional federal funding will bolster the work of legal aid programs, many programs continue to lack adequate resources to meet all the requests for help that they receive from an increasing number of low-income Americans. Historically, federal funding for programs has not kept pace with the demand for legal services, and the recession is causing state budget shortfalls, a drop in revenue from the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts and a decline in charitable giving - all at a time when more low-income individuals and families are at risk of losing jobs, health care and shelter.
LSC is the single largest provider of civil legal aid for the poor in the nation. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as a private, nonprofit organization to promote equal access to justice and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.