Legislators took a bite this past session out of taxpayer funding for poor people caught up in the courts system, and it’s unclear why.
The heads of the three agencies that used this money – and a much larger pot of threatened federal funding – to handle thousands of child custody cases, landlord/tenant disputes and other civil matters said they received no notice for the cut and that they’ve gotten no explanation in the ensuing month.
“We were totally blindsided,” said Kenneth Schorr, executive director at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. “There was no communication this was on the table.”
The cut materialized in the House. Legislative staff there referred WRAL News to Speaker
The four co-chairmen of the House’s Justice and Public Safety Appropriations Committee did not respond to WRAL News requests for comment. The only possible explanations Schorr and similar agency heads have heard came third-hand or worse and may be little more than speculation.
“All we’ve gotten is rumor,” said George R. Hausen Jr., president and executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, the largest of three attorney groups that get state money for this work.
The lack of communication fits a pattern, as other questions on unrelated budget cuts during and after the legislative session also were met with silence.
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