Poverty calculation causes Indiana Legal Services’ funding to drop

December 28, 2015

Although Legal Services Corp. will receive a $10 million bump in funding for fiscal year 2016, Indiana Legal Services will see its appropriation from the national organization decrease.

The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress Dec. 18 included $385 million for the Legal Services Corp. The funding level is up from fiscal year 2015’s appropriation of $375 million and continues the trend of increasing Congressional support that hit $365 million in FY 2013. That was $25 million more than funding for FY 2012.

However, Indiana will be receiving a slightly smaller allocation in the coming year.

The LSC’s support for 134 local nonprofit legal aid organizations across the United States is calculated by the number of people living in poverty. While Indiana’s poverty population jumped by roughly 2 percent from 2011 through 2014 according U.S. Census data, the poverty population of other areas has increased by a higher percentage.

Consequently, Indiana appropriation from the LSC will slip. The Hoosier state’s portion for FY 2016 will be $6.53 million, down from $6.56 million for FY 2015.

 “We’re very pleased with the result of the Congressional appropriation process,” Laramore said. “The bipartisan support for legal services allows us to maintain the same size program in 2016 that we had in 2015.”

To keep its programs running at current levels, Indiana Legal Services will be drawing from the $275,000 grant from the Bank of America settlement funds and is anticipating other grants to be forthcoming.

Legal Services Corp. had requested $486.9 million for FY 2016 and the White House recommended $452 million in funding for the organization. In June, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut the LSC appropriation by 20 percent to $300 million but a few weeks later, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $385 million for LSC.
“We’re very grateful for the $10 million increase in our Congressional funding,” LSC board chair John Levi said after the omnibus spending bill passed. “The bipartisan for this measure illustrates that Congress recognizes the importance of ensuring that all Americans have equal access to justice.”


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