ABA president Hilarie Bass backs funding of at least $482M for Legal Services Corp.

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ABA President Hilarie Bass/Photo by Len Irish.

Federal funding for the Legal Services Corp. has shrunk since fiscal year 2010 despite a study finding a justice gap experienced by low-income Americans, ABA President Hilarie Bass said Friday in testimony submitted to a House subcommittee.

Legal Services Corp. received $410 million in federal funding in fiscal 2018 an amount that is below its funding level of $420 million in fiscal 2010. Bass thanked the subcommittee for the current funding level, but said more is needed.

Bass is asking Congress to hike LSC funding to at least $482 million, an amount that matches the 2010 budget in inflation-adjusted dollars. Even better, she said in her testimony, would be to fund the budget at the LSC’s requested level of $564.8 million. A press release is here, and Bass’ testimony is here.

Bass referred to a 2017 study conducted for the LSC that found 86 percent of civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans in the past year were not addressed with adequate legal help. She also referred to the need to help people likely to be affected by natural disasters in 2018 and people affected by the opioid epidemic.

“As the economy revives,” Bass said, “LSC funding should also revive.”

Bass submitted the testimony to the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

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