Diverting Money From an Already Underfunded Program

Within two days of the House of Representatives budget being released, 758 amendments were filed.  Amendments add money to favored programs, make policy changes or even earmark or divert funds from one thing to another.  Earmarks sometimes have absolutely no relevance to a line item, and often reflect unique district priorities.  One amendment in particular caught the BBA’s attention.

Amendment #243 would have diverted $100,000 of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation’s (MLAC) appropriation for a study on grandparents raising grandchildren.  While that issue is worthy, the explicit designation of funds is the wrong way to go about it.  In our view, pulling essential resources from an already underfunded line item makes for bad public policy.  Always a vocal and public leader for legal aid, the BBA voiced its opposition for two key reasons:

  • The Amendment would have reduced funding for legal aid at a time when legal aid programs are forced to turn away nearly 50% of the people who seek services due to inadequate resources.  A reduction of any amount would exacerbate these circumstances.
  • Carving away at MLAC funding would have set a bad precedent for other groups, who  also have legitimate needs.

After all of the work to get level funding in the House budget, Amendment #243 would have undermined our efforts to secure much needed support for legal aid.

-Kathleen Joyce

Government Relations Director

BostonBar Association

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