A message from Legal Advice and Referral Center Executive Director Breckie Hayes-Snow — Posted October 16, 2017
The federal budget situation for 2018 – including any potential changes to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest source of public funding for legal aid – remains uncertain.
This spring, budget writers in the U.S. Senate proposed flat funding, maintaining the same level of support as in 2016, $385 million. The U.S. House budget proposed a 22 percent reduction in LSC funding.
That proposal would result in a drastic cut to Basic Field Grants, like the one that provides significant funding for LARC.
Such a cut would devastate LARC’s ability to provide direct legal assistance to the clients who call us in a crisis, looking for help. After years of level funding despite increasing costs, there is no room in the budget to absorb such reductions.
In addition, the impact would cascade through New Hampshire’s legal assistance system. LARC’s partner agencies would be faced with significant cuts to the intake and screening services LARC provides. Our allies at these programs would also face difficult staffing choices as they wrestle with the effect of cuts to LSC.
The Concord Monitor wrote in April about what the proposed budget would mean for LARC and our clients:
“I was a nervous wreck when I called,” said former LARC client, Mae Bilodeau of Franklin, who fell behind on her rent while recovering from a stroke. But that anxiety eventually turned into confidence, and then, when it was all over, relief, she said. Significant efforts are underway in Washington to convince members of both houses to maintain or if possible increase funding for LSC, which provides relief to more than 5,000 people like Mae each year in New Hampshire. However, until the two bills are reconciled, we can’t predict the outcome.