Assembly Judiciary to assess effect of budget cuts on legal services for poor

TRENTON  – This week the Assembly tackled budget cuts’ effects on seniors, disabled, and children.

Next week, the lower chamber will address their effect on legal services for the poor.

The Judiciary will convene Wednesday to collect testimony on the impact of the governor’s cut of $10 million from Legal Services of New Jersey as well as other programs.

According to the Democrats, this cut comes after the governor cut $9.7 million from the program in 2010, forcing staff cutbacks at a time of an increased need of legal assistance for the poor.

Two other programs, clinical legal services for the poor at Rutgers School of Law in Camden and in Newark, lost $200,000 each, the Democrats stated.

“We need to weigh the impact of these cuts because, after all, this is a matter of fairness,”  Assembly Judiciary Chairman Peter J. Barnes III, (D-18), Edison, said in a release.

So far, efforts to restore cuts to the budget have traveled an odd road. 

The Senate in two sessions could not override any of the governor’s vetoes.

But then upon returning from a two-week trip out West, Gov. Chris Christie announced restoration of two of the funds, $149 million for Transitional Aid, and $537,000 for the Wynona Lipman House in Newark.

In the former case, Christie said the aid could be restored via legislation that would provide a supplemental appropriation and put in place oversight provisions.  In the latter case, the money will be provided via a federal allocation.

The Assembly Judiciary will meet at 10 a.m. in Room 12 of the Statehouse Annex.

Assembly Judiciary to assess effect of budget cuts on legal services for poor