State Budget Crisis Results in Steep Cuts to Legal Aid Programs –While the demand for civil legal services for the poor is growing, funding drops

 

December 25, 2008

 

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass , the nonprofit group that provides emergency civil legal help to the poor across Northern and Central Kentucky may have to turn the indigent away to make up for a cut in state funding. Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, which serves 33 counties.

 

Frankfort used to give $1.5 million a year for four legal aid organizations in Kentucky – including Legal Aid of the Bluegrass which serves 33 counties including Boone, Campbell and Kenton.

 

This fiscal year that was reduced to $500,000 – to be split among the four organizations. Now Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed cutting that funding in half – to just $250,000.

 

That would mean a loss of $46,000 for Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, said executive director Dick Cullison.

 

Cullison said he has already trimmed payroll by $400,000 because of the previous cuts and eliminated five or six positions in the last six months alone.

 

The proposed cuts come as the office is seeing a jump in demand for its services due to the home-loan crisis.

 

Legal aid societies across the state help people with annual incomes at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level.  Legal Aid of the Bluegrass closed more than 4,000 cases in 2007.

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