As a practical matter, line item 0321-1510 is always underfunded. Many are. It may be that there is a hope that “there will be more tax revenue later” or that “we won’t need to pay these folks, we will need fewer hours service than the agency thinks.”
The actual impact on the attorneys who are dedicated enough to accept below market pay scales to represent the indigent is that many years, there is a BIG wait for payment.
In 2003, that wait was up to five months. Attorneys I know were facing foreclosure on their homes. In FY 06 it was only six weeks or so [which means many attorneys had to wait 4 months to be paid for work done because many categories of case work can only be billed January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1. So if the work is done in January, say, it cannot be billed until April for those areas of law.
But, at any event, the work of the Rogers Commission/Commission on Representation of the Indigent indicated that by decrimilizing certain types of non-violent, low level offenses there were saving to be had and a further commission should investigate. Never happened.