Urgent Action: Protect IOLA Funds Held in Trust for New Yorkers in Need

May 16, 2024

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The New York Legal Services Coalition

An active member of the New York Legal Services Coalition, NYLPI is hosting a statewide digital action before the end of session on June 6.

In a last-minute reversal in the final FY2025 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul diverted $55 million from the Interest on Lawyers Account Fund (IOLA). IOLA is a dedicated fund designed to deliver civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers. Its revenue comes from interest earned on lawyers’ trust accounts – not taxes. This unprecedented raid was the first time in over 40 years that IOLA’s revenue was used for purposes outside of the stated intent of its enabling statute.

A new bill, S.9130/A.10253, will protect the true purpose of the IOLA Fund and prevent further raids from IOLA by removing it from the appropriations process. The bill will allow the IOLA Board of Trustees to make grants outside of the inherently political budget process, with timely decisions based on actual needs presented across the State. Removing the IOLA Fund from the appropriations and budget process allows the IOLA Fund Board of Trustees to address the legal needs of low-income New Yorkers as they arise. For example, the IOLA Fund was unable to increase its grants last year to address the legal crisis that emerged for recent arrivals in New York because IOLA was limited by budget appropriation decisions made in mid-2022, before the historic increase in interest rates.

Time is of the essence – there’s less than a month to move this bill through the Senate and Assembly before the end of session.

Please take action to preserve the IOLA Fund and help close the justice gap: click here to send a letter today.

Click here to share this letter campaign on Facebook.

Click here to share this letter campaign on Twitter.

Read our memorandum of support here.

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