From the National Legal Aid & Defender Association:
Last night House and Senate conferees agreed to a spending package that would fund the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) at $348,000,000 for FY 2012. This figure represents a reduction in overall funding for LSC of $56,190,000, or 13.9 percent. The entire cut comes from funding for basic field programs, amounting to 14.8 percent of the critical funding used by LSC grantees to provide access to justice in the United States. The figure represents a split in half of the difference between the level the Senate appropriated for FY 2012 of $396.1 million and the House level of $300 million.
It appears that, despite a heavy educational campaign by supporters of legal services aimed at conservative members in the House, the pressure on House Republican conferees resulting from the earlier deep cuts in the House appropriations bill led to their insistence upon this level of cut before they would agree to a final overall spending deal funding the Commerce, Justice and Science functions of government. Despite the expressed strong support of conferees Barbara Mikulski and Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate, and Chaka Fattah in the House, the intransigence of House leadership on this issue led to the unfortunate compromise resolution.
The package is expected to pass the House and Senate this week. The Conference Report containing the agreements is not open to amendment on either the House or Senate floor. Thus, the LSC figure contained with the Report is likely to be the final spending figure for FY 2012.
What does this mean for Wisconsin? The short answer is that Wisconsin is likely to lose over $700,000 in federal funding that would have helped thousands of vulnerable Wisconsin residents to resolve their legal issues affecting basic human needs for shelter, safety, food and employment. Life is is about to become a little bit tougher for the poor, the elderly, the disabled and others facing unlawful evictions, lending abuses, domestic violence or barriers to employment.