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KY Budget Scissors Labeled “Too Sharp” for Families

January 14, 2009

Louisville, KY – Kentucky's budget scissors have been extra sharp for legal aid groups. One million of the $1.5 million the state usually invests in the programs was cut last year, and the Governor is proposing another cut of $250,000 as part of his plan to make up for the budget shortfall of more than $450 million.

Legal Aid Society Executive Director Jeffrey Been in Louisville labels the budget cuts "drastic," and points out that the cutting comes at a time when Kentuckians are asking legal aid groups for more help than usual to keep their homes, jobs and health care coverage.

"This economy has hurt them the most. These are the working poor, they're people with disabilities, they're seniors living on a fixed, limited income."

Been says for every person they've helped recently, Legal Aid has had to turn one away.

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass Executive Director Dick Cullision says he's already laid off six staff members because of state budget cuts last year, and his organization is operating on too lean a basis to cut any more. He's hoping the General Assembly can be creative.

"The legislature should find a way to balance Kentucky's severe budget crisis, without retreating from its noble effort to establish 'justice for all' in the Commonwealth."

Legal Aid organizations also receive funding from foundations, but those donations have dropped off along with the economy, and the federal funding they receive has remained flat.

Governor Steve Beshear says everyone has to face painful cuts to make up for the budget shortfall.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY