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LSC Suffers Setback in Final Budget Bargaining

Thursday, December 20, 2007

  • Legal Services Corperation
  • Source: CALegalAdvocates (Decommissioned) >

On Wednesday, December 19, 2007, the U.S. Congress passed and the President is expected to sign H.R. 2764, the "omnibus" appropriations act which provides funding for the majority of the Federal government for FY 2008. The act includes $350.5 million for the Legal Services Corporation. While this figure represents a slight increase over LSC's FY 2007 budget of $348.6 million, it is a significant decrease from what the House and Senate recommended for LSC earlier this year. The House approved $377 million for LSC in June, and the Senate approved $390 million in October.

The unexpected cut was a part of the $22 billion in discretionary spending that Congressional appropriators pared down to avoid a veto by President Bush, who threatened to reject any bill that exceeded the spending limits in his budget. In fact, LSC fared better than most other non-Cabinet agencies in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies portion of the bill. Only the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the International Trade Commission received greater increases over 2007 levels than LSC.

The breakdown of the $350 million appropriation includes $332.4 million for Basic Field Grants, $2.1 million for Technology Initiatives, $500 thousand for Loan Repayment Assistance, $12.5 million for Management and Administration, and $3 million for the Office of the Inspector General. Overall, the funding represents a one-half of one percent increase over FY 2007. LSC has been operating at FY 2007 levels under a series of Continuing Resolutions (CR) since FY 2008 officially began on October 1.

"On behalf of LSC, the programs we fund, and the clients they serve, I am greatly disappointed that we will not receive the budget increase that we had expected all year," said LSC President Helaine M. Barnett. "Over 95 percent of that increase would have gone directly to 137 programs providing crucial civil legal assistance to low-income Americans facing domestic violence, eviction, predatory lenders, and other serious legal problems. I know that these cuts were difficult decisions for our supporters in the Congress because they understand the need. We look forward to working with them in the year ahead to get back on the road to closing the justice gap in America."

For more information on the FY 2008 spending package, click here.

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