In addition to increasing state funding for legal aid, the Commission works to secure federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). LSC is an independent nonprofit corporation that promotes access to justice and provides grants from federal funds to legal aid organizations across the nation for high-quality legal assistance. Three Texas providers receive LSC funding: Lone Star Legal Aid, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid. These three LSC organizations serve the majority of legal aid clients in Texas, and this federal funding is vital to the continued work of civil legal aid in Texas.
Unfortunately, LSC funding has not kept pace with inflation. In 1995, Congress appropriated $400 million for LSC when there were 43 million Americans living in poverty. In 2014, Congress appropriated $365 million in LSC funding to serve a population of over 60 million people living in poverty. If funding for LSC had been adjusted for inflation, LSC’s funding today would be more than $600 million.
In addition to failing to keep pace with inflation, funding for LSC has also been unpredictable. In recent years, LSC funding has dropped from $420 million in 2010 to $404 million in 2011 and finally $341 million in 2013. Though funding was increased to $365 million for 2014, the dramatic changes in funding levels from year to year make it difficult for legal aid organizations to budget effectively and allocate their resources in the most efficient way.
Each spring, the Commission partners with the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to visit Texas congressional members and senators in their D.C. offices. In conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Lobby Day in Washington, our delegation provides our state’s national representatives with information on civil legal services and access to justice issues affecting their constituents. The goal of these visits is to educate our lawmakers and encourage them to support LSC funding.
How can I help?
Tell your elected officials that you support funding for the Legal Services Corporation and you think they should as well.
Click on the link below to find out who represents you on the federal level.