House and Senate approve FY22 budget with increased funding for MBA priorities

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Legislative ImageOn Friday, July 9, the House and Senate approved a $48.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2022. Included in the budget are two Massachusetts Bar Association priorities:  $35 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) and a compensation increase for assigned private counsel. The MBA has been advocating to raise the rates of pay for bar advocates.

"We are grateful to Senate President Karen Spilka, House Speaker Ron Mariano, Ways and Means Chairs Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, and Judiciary Committee Chairs Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Michael Day for their leadership on both of these vital access to justice issues," said Martin W. Healy, MBA chief legal counsel and chief operating officer. 

The MBA joined forces with the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to advocate for a compensation increase for assigned private counsel in every category. The proposal was for an incremental increase over three years. The budget implements the year one proposal. 

District Court $53/hr $60/hr
CAFL $55/hr $75/hr
Appeals $68/hr $75/hr
Superior Court $68/hr $75/hr
Mental Health $53/hr $60/hr
Juvenile Court $53/hr $60/hr
Murder $100/hr $110/hr
CRAs $53/hr $60/hr

The MLAC line item was funded at $35 million, a $6 million increase over FY21. MLAC provides funding for basic civil legal needs of low-income people, helping them with issues related to housing, immigration, family law, domestic violence, health care, education and protection of elders. 

The governor has 10 days to act on the fiscal year 2022 budget. The conference committee report can be found here.