THANK YOU to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for level funding the line item for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) at $9.5 million. Yesterday the House Ways & Means Committee unveiled its annual budget. Because of the $1.9 billion gap between spending and available revenues, there were deep cuts to virtually all areas of government. Level funding at a time when things like health care, local aid, education, and human services are being cut is an enormous victory.
In the days and even the hours leading up to the release of the budget, advocacy groups searched hard for signals that might forecast what would happen to the line items on which the survival of their programs depends. Of course there were last minute meetings and phone calls to implore legislators to make legal services one of their key priorities. But in the days leading up to the release of the budget, advocacy groups also had to think seriously about contingency plans in the event of cuts in funding.
State budgets translate into statements about values. For the House Ways & Means Committee to level fund legal services in the midst of widespread cuts to other important programs sends a powerful message that the members of the House understand the importance of providing equal justice for all. Now the Senate is on deck. While the Senate is reviewing the recommendations in the House proposal, please take a moment to contact your state representative and say thank you for supporting legal services. Make another phone call and ask your state senator to support legal services and the MLAC line item. With the Governor and now the House supporting level funding for legal services, things certainly look promising. But the need for advocacy continues.
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association