The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services is asking for a supplemental appropriation in January of over $2.8 million.
John Pelletier, executive director of the commission, says lawmakers rejected an attempt earlier this year to get additional money requested in the two-year budget, but not approved.
“For ‘16 they gave us the amount to increase the hourly rate, but they zeroed out the cost increase, saying that is the second year of the biennium,” he says.
Pelletier says the increased need in the commission budget is driven by a number of factors. He says there are more cases being brought against the poor who can’t afford to pay for their own attorney, and the complexity of cases is increasing. He said lawmakers did fund an hourly increase for lawyers from $55 an hour to $60 an hour.