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Apr 21, 2018  
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Kentucky Attempted To Kill Legal Aid Funding — We Should All Be Terrified While the public interest world continues to wait for a “Civil Gideon” like they’re waiting for Godot, Kentucky considered a sharp turn in the opposite direction with a new plan to eliminate state funding for legal aid as part of its budget negotiations. Ultimately, some of the funding snuck back into the final budget , but the program still took a hit. You might think the state’s proposed $1.27 million budget for legal aid was an insignificant bargaining chip compared to the state’s $70 billion operating expenses, but then you’d be forgetting about the state government’s commitment to issuing massive, revenue-crippling tax cuts . It’s important to have goals in life and plutocratic supervillainy is as good as any other. While these devastating cuts to critical legal services didn’t completely finish the job, there’s reason to worry about next year’s budget. Governor Matt Bevin has publicly called for gutting the legal aid budget  and now it’s a key pillar of his “brand.” With the Senate, whose budget proposed eliminating funding entirely, and Governor opposed to legal aid, it’s hard to imagine this doesn’t come up again next year when they’re looking for another symbolic cut. The moral is, Kentucky’s poor should expect to take significant hits going forward. And those are hits they can barely withstand. Kentucky, one of the nation’s five poorest states, leans heavily on the already underfunded legal aid system. The Kentucky Access to Justice Commission’s website explains that : Kentucky Legal Aid receives 4,000 calls a month requesting legal help and closes about 24,000 cases each year, which provides critical assistance to 68,000 low-income families and children who have nowhere else to turn for help. About 55 percent of the people who apply and are eligible for civil legal aid services are turned away because of lack of resources. Of course, if the state withdraws all of its funding in the future, Kentucky’s legal aid programs won’t be entirely without resources. The program could continue to rely on contributions from the Legal Services Corporation, the entity that distributes federal funds to state and local legal aid organizations.

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