For the first time in years, the final budget agreement for 2014 that Congress just approved this week has some better news for both Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funding and funding for the federal courts (including the federal defender), two priority issues on which the CBF focuses its advocacy efforts. Because Congress has already agreed on the top line numbers for next year’s budget, this funding should also have some stability through 2015, a relief amid all the cuts and uncertainty of the last three years.
For LSC, the funding level for the coming year is $365 million, a $25 million increase from the current level and the first increase since some devastating cuts started three years ago. That should translate to a much-needed collective increase of more than $800,000 for the three Illinois programs that receive federal funds through the LSC.
While there is a long way to go to get back to the $420 million funding level of three years ago (and even further to the level at which it really needs to be), Congress’ recent budgetary decisions have us moving in the right direction again and take us off the rock-bottom point LSC’s funding had reached last year in real dollars. This LSC historical funding chart gives some perspective on the longer-term trends regarding LSC funding. The chart shows that as the number of people in need has vastly increased over the years, LSC’s funding in real dollars has dropped by more than half at the same time. This underscores that there is a lot more work to do in order to bring this funding to where it needs to be.
The budget agreement also brings some good news for funding for the federal courts and the federal defender. The overall funding level for the Judiciary, while still tight, increased enough to largely do away with the very problematic impact of the sequester, including restoring funding for the federal defender that had been devastated by the sequester. For additional details regarding the breakdown of the increased funding for the federal courts and the federal defender, the National Law Journal’s Blog of the Legal Times has a good summary.
If you have any questions regarding the CBF’s advocacy work or if you would like additional information regarding LSC funding and funding for the federal courts (including the federal defender), contact Bob Glaves at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.554.1205 or Jessica Bednarz at email@example.com or 312.554.4952.