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Empire Justice Center Testimony at the Executive Budget Hearing on Human Services

The Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees



February 10, 2010

 

Prepared by:

Saima Akhtar

Susan C. Antos

Kristin Brown

Don Friedman

Louise M. Tarantino

Barbara Weiner



Presented by:

Kristin Brown Lilley and Saima Akhtar 


I. Introduction

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.  My name is Kristin Brown Lilley and I am the Director of Legislative Advocacy for the Empire Justice Center and with me is Saima Akhtar, a Staff Attorney from our Albany office.  Empire Justice Center is a statewide legal services organization with offices in Albany, Rochester, White Plains and Central Islip (Long Island).  Empire Justice provides support and training to legal services and other community-based organizations, undertakes policy research and analysis, and engages in legislative and administrative advocacy.  We also represent low-income individuals, as well as classes of New Yorkers, in a wide range of poverty law areas including public benefits, child care, child support, health, domestic violence, immigrant access to benefits, housing, employment, consumer, disability and civil rights.
 
We will be addressing the following topics today:

  • TANF and Public Assistance:
    • Implement the Public Assistance Grant Increase as Scheduled
    • Restore Funding for the Disability Advocacy Program
    • Restore Funding for Non-residential Domestic Violence Services
  • Child Care:
    • Increase Funding for Child Care in Order to Increase Parents Access to Work During Difficult Economic Times
    • Create Statewide Standards for the Administration of Child Care Assistance Program
  • Citizenship Initiatives
  • Medicare Part D Counseling and Appeals
  • State Administration of SSI Supplement
  • Access to Justice: Restore State Funding for Civil Legal Services

II. TANF and Public Assistance:

Before moving into this section, we must express our frustration with the numerous cuts in TANF funding for critical programs and services for poor and low income New Yorkers.  TANF is an essential federal funding stream that is intended to be used for these benefits and services.  The Contingency Fund and Emergency Contingency fund dollars provided by the federal government were crafted in a way that was meant to encourage states to maintain and invest in these types of services in recognition of the impact that the recession would have on low wage earners, job loss, and those who are unable to work or to find work.  To see TANF funded programs cut, long awaited benefits increases delayed and desperately needed new investments, such as child care assistance not materialize in a truly meaningful way in favor of general fund offsets is truly dismaying.  We are cognizant of the financial pressures and cash flow problems facing the state.  Indeed, as a nonprofit providing state funded services, we are suffering similar cash flow problems due to substantial delays in our state contracts.  However, we strongly urge the legislature to work with the Governor to pursue other ways of finding savings or even better, identifying new revenue rather than diverting TANF dollars away from poverty prevention and work supports and into the general fund. 

a. Implement the Public Assistance Grant Increase as Scheduled.

In proposing a modest increase in the welfare grant in his 2009-10 budget, Governor Paterson said, “Since 1990, the world has changed dramatically, but the basic welfare grant has stayed the same, and the challenges facing the neediest among us have only increased.  Though our resources are limited, this is a much needed investment to help assist vulnerable New Yorkers who are suffering as a result of the current economic crisis, far too many of whom are children.”

His words are no less fitting today.  Although the first incremental increase in the grant did take place, the increase raised the monthly basic allowance for a household of three from $291 to only $321.  This represents a single 10% increase in the twenty years since 1990, a period during which the cost of living increased by more than 65%.  Even if the remainder of the grant increase were implemented today, families in need would receive a grant that had lost half of its purchasing power relative to 1990.  Clearly, doubling the time required for the phase-in will intensify the hardship faced by some of our state’s poorest households.

At $14 million, the cost of retaining the current grant increase schedule is relatively modest, particularly in light of the 68% decrease in the welfare caseload since 1994.  The greatly diminished cost of cash assistance over time freed up substantial state and federal dollars for other purposes.  Despite the financial difficulties the state is now in the midst of, the state simply cannot justify any attempt to wring yet more savings from New York’s neediest by delaying implementation of this very modest increase in aid, particularly when other critical benefit programs are also being cut.

Virtually since its inception, public assistance has played a counter-cyclical role; when the economy is strong, fewer people need this aid, and when the economy is weak, need increases and the caseload increases, as the welfare system provides a modest buffer against destitution for those living in poverty.  In the current recession, New York’s Food Stamps program has performed in precisely this way, with the number of recipients increasing 40% from December 2007 through July of 2009.  In glaring contrast, public assistance rolls increased by less than 6%.  There can little doubt that this unresponsiveness of the system has little to do with the level of need and more to do with rules and procedures that create insurmountable obstacles to families in need.  As with the proposed delay in implementing the grant increase, shredding the safety net for poor New Yorkers by creating hurdles to accessing critical assistance is not a fair or ethical way to address the current budget shortfall.

  • We urge the legislature to restore maintain the welfare grant increase as scheduled under current law.

b. Restore Funding for the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP).

Through the DAP program, legal services providers in every region of the state provide low income disabled New Yorkers with legal assistance when their SSI/SSD applications have been denied or their benefits terminated.  Many of the clients represented receive welfare benefits while they await a decision about their application.  For each successful case, the Social Security Administration provides a retroactive award to the client for benefits they would have received, beginning from the time of initial application and reimbursement to state and local governments for the benefits provided. With a success rate of 83% in 2007, well above the national average, the DAP program consistently generates federal reimbursement money for the state that far exceeds the state funding used to provide the services.  Over the course of the past six years, the DAP program generated a total of  over $152 million in retroactive awards to clients to be spent in communities around the state and just under  $47 million in interim assistance paid to state and local governments. 

OTDA estimates that $3,180 in annual savings is generated for each Safety Net recipient able to secure Disability benefits with the assistance of DAP advocates.  Again, according to OTDA, for each TANF recipient DAP providers successfully help, $831 in annual savings is generated.  In 2008 alone, DAP secured disability benefits for 996 Safety Net recipients, and 388 TANF recipients generating almost $3.5 million in ongoing annual savings which compounds year after year, as these individuals stay off of state and local funded benefits and DAP helps more clients secure disability benefits.  

Unfortunately, the ability of DAP providers to continue to generate this type of savings is being eroded - from almost fifteen years of flat funding combined with recent cuts in the general funding that allows providers to assist those who are in the 100% state and local funded Safety Net program.  As you can see from the imbedded charts, the majority of interim awards and retroactive benefits are generated from Safety Net cases.

General funding for the Disability Advocacy Program in the 2010-11 Executive Budget proposal is slated for a 10% reduction, on top of the 8% cut enacted in the 2009-10 State Budget.  TANF funding of $1 million has been eliminated and replaced with $2.5 million from the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF) – federal stimulus dollars that must be spent by September 30th 2010 and are available to provide  “short term, non recurrent” services.

We certainly appreciate efforts to provide much needed funding to the DAP program through the ECF.  However, the general fund dollars are essential to our ability to bring in the substantial savings state and local governments expect from the program.  If the general funding cuts are adopted, we anticipate a substantial reduction in our ability to generate savings for the state if we are forced to reduce the number of Safety Net cases we open so that we have them in the pipeline for interim assistance and retroactive awards in the future. 

Even before the funding reductions, providers have had to increasingly turn clients, and thus potential savings for state and local government, away due to lack of resources.  This lack of resources has resulted in a reduction in the number of cases programs can close.  Between 2004 and 2007, DAP saw an approximate 25% reduction in the number of cases closed, while maintaining the same high level of “wins”– over 80%.  

An informal survey of DAP providers conducted by Empire Justice in early December 2009 found that, despite high demand, providers have had to utilize strategies such as waiting lists, scheduling appointments months into the future, severely limited intake of new cases, and even temporarily shutting down intake so that advocates can catch up.  One program reported that they had an active case list of over 800 cases.  Empire Justice only does intake two days a week for two hours because we are unable to meet the need.  Of those who responded, 80% of programs indicated that flat funding has resulted in being able to serve fewer clients and thus generate less savings for the state.  Many have had to jeopardize the quality of services because they are unable to hire experienced staff.  Most have stopped doing any form of outreach or education about their services, as they simply cannot encourage people to call for assistance.  

To help maintain the ability to generate the ongoing savings the DAP program produces for both the state and local governments the DAP program, we urge:

  • Restoration of DAP General Fund Support at $5.74 million the level it was funded at from 1995 until 2007.  Because the program is funded at 50% state and 50% local cost, this restoration would cost the state $493,000. 
  • Restoration of DAP TANF funding at $1 million – the same level it has been at since its inception.
  • Maintenance of TANF ECF funding at a reduced level of $1.5 million


c. Restore Funding for Non-residential Domestic Violence Services.

Empire Justice Center joins with our colleagues in the community of domestic violence service providers to express our deep concern for the loss of funding for services to victims of domestic violence.  The elimination of $3 million in TANF dollars designated for use in non-residential domestic violence services will undermine numerous critical supports to the vulnerable low income victims of violence most in need of safety and support.

As will be discussed in the civil legal services portion of our testimony, the Governor also eliminates $1.2 million in funds for the provision of legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, thus undermining the ability to obtain critically needed representation in life and death situations.

In recognition of the nature of the services that will be eliminated or curbed as a result of these and other funding changes that will impact domestic violence services, we urge you to restore the two funding streams above and work with the domestic violence community to ensure that the financial problems the state is experiencing in no way impede domestic violence victims ability to seek safety from an abuser. 


III. Child Care

a. Increase Funding for Child Care in Order to Increase Parents Access to Work During Difficult Economic Times.

At the outset, we thank the Governor for not including child care funding in the Flex Fund this year and for transferring $393 million of federal TANF money directly in to the New York State Child Care Block Grant (NYCCBG).  This transfer brings the NYCCBG to just over $900 million with Federal Child Care Development Funds (CCDF) making up $300.8 million, $137.4 million from the state general fund and $68.3 million in maintenance of effort funding.  In addition, the budget includes $42.5 million in stimulus funding for child care which is re-appropriated from last year.

Although this is a significant commitment to child care, it is not enough.  If our commitment to low income families working their way out of poverty is real, we must increase the amount of TANF funding that is transferred to the child care block grant and allow parents to work when and where they are able.  Federal law allows New York State to transfer 30% of its $2.44 billion annual TANF appropriation into the child care block grant.  Up to 1/3 of that 30% can be transferred to New York’s Title XX Block Grant. [1]  Currently, New York’s TANF transfer is only 16% of the amount allowed.  The transfer of just an additional 2% from TANF into the NYCCBG would make nearly $50 million more dollars available for child care, and would leave the full 10% available for transfer to Title XX.  This $50 million is critically needed so that the working families of New York can maintain their employment in this economic crisis and take advantage of the many new subsidized jobs programs that are part of this year’s budget.

Moreover, the addition of either TANF or general fund dollars to the NYCCBG will stimulate the economy.  The business of child care is a multi-million dollar segment of our economy which employs over 100,000 New Yorkers. [2]  Expanding child care means that jobs will be created throughout the state that will benefit both the workers and the families able to access care.  Quality child care also supports our most vulnerable—young children—not only keeping them safe and cared for while their parents work, but also developing young minds in a way that research now shows is critical for later learning.
 
The proposed budget would allocate $10 million dollars of TANF funding to Transitional Jobs, $5 million to Health Care Jobs and $3 million to Green Jobs. In addition, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will be encouraging local districts to use the $41.5 million of TANF funds in the budget described as the Local Family Support Fund to create subsidized jobs.  Because these jobs will be created with TANF funding, only families with children who are under 200% of poverty will be eligible to be placed in these jobs.  These families will need child care in order to remain employed in these subsidized jobs, and this need for additional child care is coming at a time when local districts already lack enough funding sufficient to serve all eligible families.  Erie County recently discontinued subsidies for 1,100 children and reduced the overall eligibility level to 125% of poverty. [3]  In September, Steuben County reduced eligibility to 120% of poverty resulting in 300 children losing their subsidies.  [4]

New York State must invest in child care to keep low income wage earners employed.  Without a commitment to provide child care to all eligible working families, the subsidized jobs programs funded with federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will fail while low income parents who already have jobs find that their ability to keep them is in jeopardy.  We urge the legislature to ensure that child care subsidies are protected from further decline and to allocate $50 million in additional funding for child care slots in this year’s budget.


b. Create Statewide Standards for the Administration of Child Care Funding

Against the backdrop of limited funding is New York’s archaic system of allowing eligibility rules and parent fees to be determined on a local basis.  Although more than 81% of child care funding is federally and state driven, with less than 10% of the cost paid with local funding, the cost of a child care subsidy and many eligibility rules are determined at a local level.  These locally driven policies are listed by each social services district in a plan that is filed biennially with the Office of Children and Family Services.  These rules mean that the child care subsidy program is administered differently all over the state.

For example, the cost of child care for similarly situated families varies dramatically depending upon the county where they live.  Recipients of child care subsidies with incomes over the poverty level pay a parental co-payment for their child care that is some percentage of the portion of their income exceeding the poverty level.  That co-payment percentage is chosen by the county.  In Schenectady County a family of three at 200% of poverty pays 35% of its income over the poverty level or $6408 per year ($123 per week) for a child care slot; in Albany County the same family would pay 15% of its income over the poverty level - $2746 per year or $52 per week.

Providers get paid for absences in some counties but not others (53 counties pay for absences; 4 do not); parents with young children who work nights can get a subsidy to pay for child care while they sleep during the day in  47 districts (but not all pay for eight hours of sleep); the income of 18 and 19 year olds is counted towards eligibility for a subsidy in some counties when determining household eligibility and not in others ( 23 social services districts count teen income only  if it benefits the family; others don’t count it or count regardless of its effect on eligibility). [5] 

To make matters more confusing, counties can change their rules by simply amending their plans.  This means that parents are not able to budget and plan properly.  From year to year, their co-payments and their very eligibility may change at any time – as we have seen recently in Erie and Steuben Counties.  It would increase the economic stability of low income working families and provide a safe nurturing foundation for the next generation if New York State established statewide standards for the rules of its child care subsidy programs.  Sufficient money should be set aside in this year’s budget to assure a smooth transition to a fair and equitable subsidy system.  A proposed three year plan is set forth at the conclusion of the Mending the Patchwork Report, which is available on our website at www.empirejustice.org.

IV. Restore Citizenship Initiatives

The Empire Justice Center joins in the call of the New York Immigration Coalition and other immigrant advocacy organizations to restore funding for the citizenship program.  This vital program provides funding to non-profit organizations that assist lawful permanent residents who are eligible to apply for citizenship.  The estimate is that there are currently one million citizenship-eligible permanent residents.  Aside from the advantages of a citizenship program for immigrants, who thereby receive critical assistance in navigating the citizenship process, the State of New York also reaps a benefit.  Each immigrant who naturalizes is one additional New Yorker whose voice counts in our political system.  In addition, low income elderly or disabled immigrants who currently receive state welfare benefits will become eligible for benefits under the federal Supplemental Security Income program once they become citizens, bringing needed federal funds into the state.

V. Medicare Part D Counseling and Appeals

The Executive Budget proposal maintains level funding for the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP), a statewide initiative run through the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA).  MCCAP consists of seven partner agencies that help elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries navigate the complicated world of Medicare Part D, as well as other related health care access issues. 

We deeply appreciate the Governor’s recognition of MCCAP as a critical safety net for our elderly and disabled Medicare populations during an exceptionally challenging funding cycle.  Many of the MCCAP agencies are civil legal services providers who face substantial shortages in other sources of funding.  Maintaining MCCAP will help ensure that these agencies can continue to serve low and moderate income Medicare beneficiaries.

VI. State Administration of SSI Supplement

The executive budget allows New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) to assume administrative responsibility for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) state supplement.  Currently, New York pays the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine eligibility for, and issue payment of the state supplement.  OTDA has estimated that New York State could save a substantial amount of money once implemented ($60 million annually) by administration of its own state supplement.

While the Empire Justice Center is sensitive to the State’s need to reduce costs, and recognizes that this proposal may achieve significant cost savings without reducing client benefits, we do have some concerns about this proposal.  State administration of the state supplement to SSI involves a major restructuring that has many implications for SSI applicants and recipients, as well many of the agencies with whom recipients interact such as Local Social Services Districts, Department of Health, Office of Mental Health, Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and local Offices for the Aging.

Currently, SSA functions as a “one stop shop” for clients in terms of assessing disability, determining the individual’s living arrangement, providing the federal SSI benefit and then both determining the amount and providing the state supplement.  SSA issues the state supplement along with the person’s federal SSI benefit, either through direct deposit or via check.  SSA is also responsible for providing beneficiary data on a regular basis to the State Department of Health so that Medicaid and Medicare Savings Program coverage can be activated.

Under the executive budget proposal, OTDA would assume responsibility for determining living arrangements for all state supplement recipients and issuing the state supplement payment.  Clients whose income exceeds federal SSI eligibility and who are not eligible for Social Security Disability or Retirement Income would lose access to a federal administrative forum for determining disability; OTDA would need to take over these administrative hearings in addition to their other responsibilities in issuing the state supplement payments.  The state would bear responsibility for all notices, appeals and issues regarding overpayments.  In addition, it appears likely that OTDA would al become responsible for communicating beneficiary information to the Department of Health.

It is critical that all of these implications are carefully thought through in order to minimize the disruption to clients during and after the transition process.  Because multiple agencies are involved, we recommend that a formal, inter-agency implementation workgroup be convened in order to ensure that OTDA receives the input of all affected partners.  Client advocates also must be at the table as members of the workgroup to present the consumer viewpoint and ensure that the protections currently in place for SSI recipients, who are currently receiving their state supplement through SSA, will remain available to clients after the changeover. 

Additionally, we wish to emphasize that the payment levels for the state supplement should not be affected in any way by this proposal.  OTDA must continue meeting federal maintenance of effort requirements.

  • We urge the Legislature to add language to the executive budget creating an inter-agency implementation workgroup with advocacy representation to oversee the implementation process if New York is to move forward with the proposed takeover of the SSI state supplement administration.

VII. Access to Justice: Restore State Funding for Civil Legal Services

Empire Justice Center has a long history of working with the Legislature to ensure that the state provides at least a basic level of support for civil legal services and we incredibly appreciative of the leadership that many of you have provided in restoring our funding to the budget year after year when the Executive takes it out.  We are here today to tell you that this year is not just another year where we come to you pleading our cause.  We believe that this year is the most critical year we have ever faced in terms of access to justice and the support needed by the legal services delivery system. 

Most years we confront the need to restore state funding to the budget.  This year we confront that and so much more.  Civil legal services providers face potential devastation and massive loss of services for low and moderate income clients should the state fail to act to address following circumstances. 

  • All $13.2 million in state funding that was in the 2009-10 budget has been eliminated.
  • An anticipated 70% decline in funding from our primary state funding source, the Interest on Lawyer Account (IOLA) fund. 
  • An unrelenting increase in people desperately seeking legal assistance as the economy continues to strip them of the ability to hold onto their jobs, homes and their economic stability.

a. Background:

As most of you well know, civil legal services are entwined in the human services delivery system in a complex and unique way.  Helping people stay in their homes and out of shelter by stopping evictions, negotiating loan modifications, helping to ensure that people in need receive the government benefits they are entitled to, working with victims, disabled individuals and veterans to ensure that they are being treated properly under the law.

The law in general is complicated, dynamic and ever changing.  The areas of law that most impact poor, low and moderate income households are exceedingly complex.  The laws governing unemployment benefits, disability assistance, public assistance, immigration, domestic violence, consumer protections, evictions, foreclosures, public housing and family law are incredibly complex. 

As Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman noted last month in his testimony before the joint Senate and Assembly hearings on the IOLA crisis:

“Many of us cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to fight for life’s most basic necessities – shelter, personal safety, food, income, health services – much less to have to go it alone, without the help of someone with legal training.  For these vulnerable New Yorkers, civil legal services are the ultimate safety net- often the only means by which they can keep their lives afloat." [6] 

b. The Cost-Effectiveness of Legal Services

Not only are legal services part of our social safety net, not only do they address one of our core values by ensuring some access to justice, they are also cost-effective for the state as an investment.

  • Client Benefits: In 2006 civil legal services generated $131 million in benefits for their clients, a return of 93 cents on the dollar.  The majority of the benefits flow almost immediately into state and local economies resulting in sales tax revenues and business income to state and local businesses.  
  • Increasing Child Support Payments: legal services programs generated a total of $12,391,387 in child support payments to clients in 2006, increasing family resources and thus decreasing the need for publicly funded benefits including public assistance and child care subsidies.
  • Maximizing SSI/SSD payments to clients and to state and local government:
    • In 2007 DAP advocates generated $24,494,483 in retroactive awards for their clients and $7,620,771 in interim assistance for benefits provided for the State. 
    • According to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s most recent Biennial Report to the Legislature, it is estimated that in 2005 DAP generated $10.5 million in public assistance cost reduction, resulting in a net gain of $14.6 million for the state and localities, more than twice the initial investment.
  • Maximizing Food Stamps:  For every family of three who receives Food Stamps, as much as $5,556 in federal dollars is generated in nutritional support and subsequent expenditure in the local economy.
  • Avoiding the High Cost of Homelessness:  In 1999 legal services providers helped a total of 48,014 adults and children avoid homelessness.  We estimate that for each family in New York City that avoids eviction as a result of civil legal services representation, $31,215 in savings is generated.  Savings around the state will vary, but are still substantial.  One study estimates a $4 savings for every $1 invested.  
  • Averting Foster Care Costs:  For every child a legal services program is able help keep out of the system, government will save an average of $16,200, at bare minimum.  For many children, the savings would be much higher - as much as $48,600 for children without special needs, and much more for those who have disabilities or need therapeutic care.

c. New York’s Approach to Ensuring Access to Justice

In the best of times, across this country and here in New York we have barely met 15% to 20% of the legal needs of the poor.  Add to this now the growing need for legal assistance among more moderate income households as they confront the legal morass of foreclosures or perhaps their first denial of needed benefits.

For far too long, New York’s commitment to ensuring access to justice has been a legislative commitment only.  Almost every year the Governor strips all funding out of the budget as he prepares the Executive Budget; each time the legislature restores these critical funds. [7]  Despite the clear and desperate need, this year is no exception.  As you will see below, even the scant $1 million that Governor Paterson had in his Executive Budget last year has been eliminated.

EXECUTIVE BUDGET: Over $13 Million - All of Last Year’s Funding for Civil Legal Services – Eliminated:

  • $4.2 million, Department of State, Assembly add
  • $4.4 million, Department of State, most targeted to civil, new Senate funds
  • $2.4 million Legal Services Assistance Fund, Division of Criminal Justice Services, Assembly add
  • $1.2 million for Domestic Violence Legal Services, Senate and Assembly
  • $1 million Legal Services Assistance Fund, Governor
     
    We urge the Legislature to restore these crucial access to justice funds.

d. The Looming Crisis in IOLA

Created in 1983, the Interest on Lawyer Account Fund (IOLA) “requires attorneys to deposit funds received from clients either in interest bearing accounts for the benefit of the clients or in interest bearing IOLA accounts, in accordance with the provision of the statute (Judiciary Law §497). The interest on IOLA accounts is pooled and provides the money for grants made by the Board of Trustees of the IOLA Fund to non-profit civil legal services providers across the state.” [8]

The interest earned on these pooled funds provides a critical source of support for civil legal services.  Unfortunately, with interest rates hovering near zero since 2008, IOLA’s earnings – and therefore its grant-making capacity -- are down dramatically.  Last year, IOLA made $24.8 million in annualized grants to legal services programs across the state.  IOLA revenue is projected to drop to approximately $6.5 million for the period April 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

Interest Income as of December 31, 2009


 
e. The Response of the Unified Court System and the Office of Court Administration

In response to this looming crisis, Chief Judge Lippman included a $15 million appropriation in the Unified Court System’s budget for 2010-11.  These funds, already included as part of the Executive budget submission and therefore already accounted for in the underlying financial plan, will be sub-allocated to IOLA, allowing the Fund to maintain current grant levels in the coming year.  Without this rescue, there will be a complete meltdown in the delivery system

It is critical that the Legislature maintain this appropriation in the final budget.

Recommendations:

  • Avert massive staffing reductions, office closures and elimination of services by maintaining the $15 million in the OCA budget to offset IOLA losses. 
  • Restore $12.2 in state funding for legal services providers made available through the efforts of the Senate and Assembly in 2009-2010.  Without simultaneous restoration of these funds, this will be a zero sum game where funding is provided to IOLA to avert disaster and reductions in other critical funding create another crisis.
  • Create a Permanent Infrastructure for civil legal services.  We must create a more stable permanent funding stream for legal services.  We cannot continue with the “wipe out and restore” process we go through every year.  We know this will require support from the Governor but it will also depend on your leadership and we look forward to working with you and your colleagues to make this happen.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to testify today.  Please feel free to contact us at 518.462.6831 should you have any questions.

End Notes:
[1] The proposed budget leaves the decision of whether to transfer TANF into Title XX up to each social services district as part of the Flexible Fund for Family Services.
[2] M. Warner, Putting Child Care in the Regional Economy: Empirical and Conceptual Challenges and Economic Development Prospects. Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Vol. 37, No. 2 Summer 2006).
[3] M. Spina, “Working-poor Families Losing Subsidies,” Buffalo News, February 9, 2010.
[4] The Corning Leader, August 29, 2009.
[5] S. Akhtar and S. Antos, Mending the Patchwork: A Report Examining county by county inequities in Child Care Administration in New York State, January, 2010. Available on line at: http://onlineresources.wnylc.net/EJC/Reports/MendingPatchwork.pdf
[6] Testimony of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman at the January 7, 2010 Senate and Assembly Hearings on IOLA and Civil Legal Services.
[7] Governor Spitzer included base funding for civil legal services in his first Executive Budget and then eliminated all general state funding from his Executive Budget the following year.
[8] About IOLA: http://www.iola.org/about.html