As a matter of constitutional law and legal ethics, quality representation for the poor is not negotiable. If the state doesn’t want to pay for indigent defense, it needs to prosecute fewer people (or at least fewer poor people).
The actual experts seem to agree on this one: the New York Times’ proposed solution —
One approach would be for states to increase the registration fees
charged to lawyers. The private bar also must significantly expand pro
bono representation. Such efforts alone cannot fill the gap.
Ultimately, government must take responsibility. All defendants, rich
or poor, have the right to competent legal counsel.
— Is a stupid idea.