April 19, 2017
County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan: 608-333-2285
County Board

Will vote Thursday on resolution opposing Trump move to kill 40-year-old program


In its continued focus on equity and justice issues, the Dane County Board is poised to oppose the elimination of a federal program that provides free legal assistance for low-income residents.

The Board at its regular meeting Thursday will vote on a resolution calling on Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation to preserve the Legal Services Corporation. President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal eliminates the program.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was established by Congress in 1974 to operate as a private, nonprofit cooperation to promote equal access to justice. The federal program assists individuals in gaining legal assistance in civil matters but not criminal cases.

“Preserving funding for the LSC is crucial to ensuring that all individuals in our county have access not just to fair courts but actual, meaningful access to the legal system,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan of Middleton.

LSC helps veterans and their families; survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking; homeowners and renters; families with children; farmers; those with disabilities; the elderly and others. To be eligible, a person must have income below 125 percent of the federal poverty level.

"This is a program that for over 40 years has delivered badly needed legal assistance that cuts across every demographic group in Dane County,” said County Supervisor Jenni Dye of Madison who sponsored the resolution.

In 2016, the LSC allocated more than $5 million of high-quality, free civil legal aid in Wisconsin. The two Wisconsin organizations that receive funding from the LSC have leveraged the federal investment into more than $8 million annually in other grants and funding and achieve more than $17 million in monetary benefits for their low-income clients.  They also engage Wisconsin's private bar attorneys to donate more than $1 million in pro bono legal services every year.

Trump’s 2018 budget eliminates funding for the LSC as the President looks to cut discretionary spending to pay for an increase in defense spending and the wall on the Mexican border. The American Bar Association has already voiced opposition to the Trump administration move to eliminate the LSC, calling it an “outrage.”   http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/events/aba-day/Wisconsin.authcheckdam.pdf

The LSC is among 19 agencies in line for total elimination of funding. Other agencies to be cut include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.