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Maine's Legal Services for Poor Fund Short $1.7 Million

AUGUSTA, Maine - The state Commission on Indigent Legal Services told lawmakers the agency is short $1.7 million to meet its expected obligations this budget year.

Executive Director John Pelletier says not only do they need additional funds for this year, they are flat funded in the governor's proposed two-year budget.

"These are requests that we believe are realistic, acknowledges the existence of these increasing costs and put the increases at a number that is based on data," Pelletier said.

Pelletier says actual costs are going up by about 8 percent a year and funding has not kept up.

Sen. Linda Valentino, a Democrat from Saco, serves on the Appropriations Committee. She says it is time to adequately fund the commission every year because in criminal cases the state has a constitutional responsibility to provide a lawyer to those who can't afford them.

Valentino cut

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"Indigent legal services is a constitutional obligation of the state so in essence we always end up paying these bills that we have incurred."