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Advocates Say Trump Budget Would Deny Justice to Thousands in Nevada

Nevada Legal Services would lose 52 percent of its budget if Congress enacts President Trump's budget. (serggn/iStockphotos)
Nevada Legal Services would lose 52 percent of its budget if Congress enacts President Trump's budget. (serggn/iStockphotos)
March 20, 2017

LAS VEGAS -- Thousands of low income Nevadans would lose access to the civil court system if Congress were to enact President Trump's proposed budget, which zeroes out funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

The LSC provides just over half of the funding for Nevada Legal Services, which helped almost 8,500 struggling Nevadans get justice in 2016 alone. Executive director Annamarie Johnson said their clients are the poorest of the poor.

"We are talking people who won't be housed, who won't be able to feed their children, who won't be able to get access to medical care, seniors who may be kicked out of a nursing home and have nowhere else to go,” Johnson said.

Nationally, the Legal Services Corporation helped 1.9 million people in 2016 on a budget of $385 million, saving taxpayers money by preventing homelessness and fighting for access to health care so people don't end up in the emergency room. Trump's budget instead sets aside large sums to increase defense spending and build a border wall.

Congress will negotiate the budget over the next few months.

Johnson said her group already turns away thousands of people every month, and huge budget cuts would force them to slash staff and reduce the types of cases they can accept.

"A cut that large would devastate our ability to meet the need of low income residents in Nevada,” she said "As it is, with a staff of 60 in our six offices across the state of Nevada, we are only meeting about 2 percent of the legal need out there."

Nevada Legal Services helps clients with cases involving housing, consumer fraud, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, taxes and family law. They also represent people on the Indian reservations.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV