U.S. Senate budget plan cuts legal aid funding by $8M

By Kimberly Atkins Dolan Media Newswires BOSTON, MA--Funding for the Legal Services Corporation, the nonprofit provider of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, would be reduced by $8 million in a plan approved by a Senate committee. The $396 million proposed Senate budget for fiscal 2012 would represent a 2 percent cut to the organization, which also received funding from private sources. Under a House plan, funding to the organization would be cut by 26 percent to $300 million. LSC officials said the proposed funding cuts come just as the need for legal aid services is increasing, given the growing number of cases involving foreclosure, unemployment, landlord-tenant disputes, domestic violence and other civil legal matters related to the slow economic recovery. "We seem caught in a perfect storm," LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi said in a statement after the Senate committee's proposal. "The Congress faces a tough budget environment. The poverty population is growing. Requests from low-income Americans for civil legal assistance are increasing. Other sources of legal aid funding are declining. Legal aid offices are stretched thin and laying off attorneys and staff because of funding shortfalls." About one in five Americans qualifies for LSC-funded assistance, or more than 60 million people, according to Census data. Entire contents copyrighted © 2011 by Dolan Media Company. Published: Mon, Oct 3, 2011

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