Public defenders call for increased state budget funding

03.01.17 | Bob Price

Public defenders are calling Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state funding proposal a Band-Aid solution to funding gaps for their offices.

A coalition of county leaders, clergy and national criminal defense groups Tuesday urged Cuomo to increase state money for public defenders in his budget.

Cuomo has proposed a total of $240 million to fund public defense in the state, but defenders say it will cost approximately $400 million for the basic costs of local public defense.

Defenders say Cuomo's proposal is too low because it's based on a 2015 settlement involving five specific counties that required that the state increase funding for the program improvements to ensure quality legal representation. They also asked to continue under the independent oversight of the Indigent Legal Services rather than Cuomo's Division of Budget.