Last week, the Trump administration released its federal budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021, A Budget for America’s Future. The budget proposal asks for $18.2 million for the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”), which covers the cost to shut it down. This call for the elimination and defunding of LSC marks the fourth time in as many years that the president has proposed a complete dismantling of the federal legal aid funding system.
This request comes at the same time LSC has submitted its own budget request for FY 2021. LSC has requested $652.6 million, an increase over last year’s request of $593 million, and has stated that they remain optimistic about congressional support. LSC funding has had a steady increase in congressional appropriations in recent years, despite the president’s repeated attempts to defund it. We reject the President’s proposal and instead call on Congress to fully fund LSC’s $652.6 million budget request.
LSC is the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid, funding 132 programs nationwide, including 11 programs that service California’s 58 counties and 100 Native American Reservations. In 2018, LSC Grantee organizations in California closed 77,500 cases and served 198,500 people, including 10,100 veterans and 52,000 seniors. This attempt at defunding would eliminate approximately 40% of California LSC Grantees funding and have a profound impact on the services provided to low-income Californians.
OneJustice is closely analyzing these budget documents and working on educational and advocacy efforts to ensure the protection of our country’s legal aid system! To get involved and stay informed, please sign up for our grassroots network, Californians for Legal Aid. Thank you!