NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 15, 1997

Congressional advocates of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) refuse to cut its budget, even though there is a large pool of state and local money, private donations and thousands of volunteers to cover the legal needs of the poor, analysts point out.

According to research by David Wilkinson, LSC inspector general from 1989 to 1991:

  • In addition to the $299 million in federal dollars, LSC grantees received another $140 million in 1989 from other sources.
  • By 1994, LSC grantees' nonfederal resources soared by 82 percent to $255 million, while federal moneys increased 34 percent to $400 million.
  • By 1996, non-LSC funding sources jumped dramatically again to possibly exceed the $283 million appropriated by Congress.

Wilkinson points out that the future of non-LSC funding looks bright:

  • The contributions to the Interest On Lawyer's Trust Account (IOLTA) increased by 22 percent in 1996.
  • In Pennsylvania the Supreme Court ordered all state lawyers to create IOLTA accounts to offset LSC cuts.
  • Though the LSC budget cuts were 33 percent, in Pennsylvania they amounted to little more than 5.1 percent thanks to the extra IOLTA state funds and other additional moneys from state and private sources.
  • Twelve states have added surcharges to filing fees on civil law suits to raise money for indigent legal services, analysts note.

Although LSC's budget has been reduced by one-third, the actual average reduction has been only 12 percent, thanks to state and private non-LSC resources. Figures show that grantees of LSC funding received at least half their moneys from non-LSC sources in 1996.

Source: John K. Carlisle (National Legal and Policy Center), "Paying for Justice," Washington Times, May 15, 1997.


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