The Texas Access to Justice Commission held its Legislative Day in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Included in this day was a press conference regarding the Texas legal aid funding crisis and potential legislative solutions. Held in the Speakers Committee Room, Justice Nathan Hecht, Chairman Harry Reasoner, and Chairman Emeritus Jim Sales set out the economic catastrophe facing Legal Aid providers in Texas, and laid out some proposed solutions.
As the population of Texas has grown over the last several years, and as the economic downturn has continued for a significant period of time, there are more and more Texas residents who are in need of legal services, but cannot afford them. And poor Texans are disproportionately affected by the recession. It is estimated that there are approximately 5.7 million people who qualify for legal aid in Texas. Yet only 20% of the civil legal needs of low income and poor Texans are being met.
During this time of crisis, the state of Texas also faces its own economic conundrum. As a result, the initial budgets released by both houses and the governor’s office cut the legal aid funding support by over 51%. The purpose of the Legislative Day for this group was to bring attention to the impending disaster. As requested by the legislature in the last session, the Texas Access to Justice Commission and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation have devised four separate funding opportunities to help sustain the cause. For more information on Texas Access to Justice Commission, or to learn more about the four separate funding opportunities, please contact me at the Abraham, Watkins law firm.