State leaders approve retroactive pay for bar advocates

Thursday, Jul. 13, 2017
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State leaders approved a $26.1 million supplemental appropriations bill to cover money owed to bar advocates during the past fiscal year. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill after it was passed on Tuesday, July 11, by both the House and Senate.

According to the State House News Service, the legislation provides $25.5 million in funding for private counsel assigned to criminal and civil cases by the Committee for Public Counsel Services and about $620,000 for court fees and costs.

Lawmakers regularly underfund the costs of providing legal representation for indigent defendants, requiring them to go back and supplement funds allocated in the annual budget. The Boston Globe had previously reported that the funding shortfall this year caused some bar advocates to max out credit cards, borrow money and postpone vacations.

State legislators have created a reserve fund in the fiscal year 2018 budget to avoid a similar shortfall next year.

Material from the State House News Service was used in this report.