LSC Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request Sent to Congress
WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) asked Congress today for $502.7 million for Fiscal Year 2017, more than 90% of which goes to basic field grants that fund civil legal assistance to low-income Americans in every congressional district. This is an increase of $15.8 million over last year’s budget request.
“LSC’s increased budget request reflects its serious concern about the nearly unparalleled need confronting our grantees in every state and every congressional district as they work to try to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens have access to our system of civil justice,” said LSC Board Chair John G. Levi. “Although organizations funded by LSC have been remarkably resourceful in stretching every dollar, many of our citizens are still left out because of a lack of resources, and our grantees desperately need these additional funds to more effectively address the continuing crisis in civil legal aid.”
LSC’s budget request included $5 million each for:
- LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program. Since 2000, the TIG program has funded more than 647 legal technology projects, allowing LSC grantees to expand the delivery of legal aid services through statewide websites, enhanced case management systems, and other innovative methods.
- LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund (PBIF) program. A competitive grant program first funded in FY 2014, PBIF supports collaborative legal aid projects that develop replicable innovations in pro bono services for low-income clients. Many of the projects use emerging technology to reach rural populations and create extensive partnerships with local law schools, community organizations, and corporate attorneys.
LSC’s budget request also included $467 million for basic field grants that fund the day-to-day operations of legal aid organizations, $1 million for student loan repayment assistance to legal aid lawyers, $19.5 million for management and grants oversight, and $5.2 million for the Office of Inspector General.
The population eligible for LSC-funded legal assistance is immense. Nearly one in three Americans—95.2 million—qualified for LSC-funded services at some point during 2014, the most recent year for which U.S. Census Bureau data are available:
- 63 million people—one in five Americans—had annual incomes below the threshold for LSC-funded legal assistance.
- Another 32.2 million people had incomes below the 125% level for at least two consecutive months.
LSC grantees help people who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines—this year, $14,850 for an individual and $30,375 for a family of four.
Congress appropriated $385 million to LSC for Fiscal Year 2016, $10 million more than the previous year. However, compared to its largest appropriation of $420 million in Fiscal Year 2010, LSC’s funding has decreased by nearly 8 percent, or $35 million.