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President’s Corner

February 1, 2007

Author: Anne Erickson

It’s exciting, exhausting, challenging and at times frightening as we work to move the state into a new day in the delivery of civil legal services.

For the first time, the Executive Budget as submitted by our new governor, Eliot Spitzer, includes funding for the general delivery of civil legal services. While the state has run various grants and contracts over the years to fund targeted services for targeted issues or targeted populations, the Executive Budget has never included funding simply for the delivery of general legal assistance to those in need.

That’s not to say the state budget finally enacted over the years has not included funding for civil legal services. They have. Every year since 1993 thanks to Assembly Majority led by Speaker Sheldon Silver and Judiciary Chair Helene Weinstein with strong support from the Assembly delegations across the state. Every year they have worked tirelessly to restore funding to the budget for civil legal services.

Indeed this annual state funding has become core and critical to many of our budgets. And it has been an intense focus of our annual advocacy efforts—to get these funds restored to the state budget by the Legislature only to see them eliminated by the Governor in the following year.

This year–finally–we start with investments in civil legal services included in the Executive Budget.  There is more detail in this issue of the LSJ and clearly we have a ton of work ahead of us to move this from a proposal to a reality, but with a partner finally in the Executive, with continued leadership from the Assembly, with on-going support from the Senate and the Judiciary – we are finally poised to turn the corner and join the vast majority of states that include funding for civil legal services as part of their base operations. 


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