NYLPI Urges New York State Leadership to Pass HESC/DALF Expansion in FY25 Budget

March 12, 2024

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Image shows a NYLPI sign on the steps of New York's Tweed Courthouse in Lower Manhattan

NYLPI joins prosecutors, defenders, legal services and unions in a letter urging Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie to fund a modest expansion of the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) District Attorney and Indigent Legal Services Attorney Loan Forgiveness (DALF) program, as outlined by S4511C (Ramos) A1568D (Simon).

“It is a well known fact that our offices have been suffering from high rates of attrition in recent years. Low salaries and high law school debt burdens mean that too often, it is impossible for attorneys to remain in these vital roles that serve fellow New Yorkers. When attorneys turn to private sector jobs after being trained and gaining the skills to excel in these vital jobs, New Yorkers in need of their services are left behind as offices deal with larger caseloads and fewer experienced attorneys able to handle more complex cases. This also means that cases grind to a halt as new attorneys or prosecutors are assigned, creating backlog and delay in our legal systems. This crisis was again brought to a head by the October 2023 end of the federal pause on student loan repayments; restarting a grueling monthly loan payment regime that only has hope of relief after 10 full years of service to the public when our attorneys become eligible for federal loan cancellation. We urge you to take action to relieve this enormous financial burden. The modest expansion of the HESC/DALF program in S4511C/A1568D, if passed in the FY25 budget, can have an immediate effect for all eligible attorneys who again began loan repayments this past fall. By passing this crucial bill, one which crosses the aisle with the vociferous support of institutional defender offices, civil defender offices and District Attorney offices; New York can lead the country in modeling debt relief for attorneys working to serve the public.”

Read the full letter here.

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