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How President Trump’s proposed budget could impact West Michigan

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WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Proposals laid out in President Donald Trump’s budget plan could have a huge impact on West Michigan, with more money for some and less for others.

Newschannel 3’s I-Team has been looking into how that budget could affect your daily life.

Inside the offices of Legal Aid of West Michigan, Executive Director Juan Salazar is keeping a close eye on President Trump’s budget proposal, titled “America First.”

“It’s a matter of waiting to see what the final product looks like,” said Salazar.

The first version of the budget introduced by the president calls for an increase in military spending, an increase the president says can easily be offset by slicing and dicing elsewhere.

“This defense spending increase will be offset and paid for by finding greater savings and efficiencies across the federal government,” said President Trump. “We’re going to do more with less.”

Inside the president’s plan is a lengthy list of program cuts, and on that list you’ll see the Legal Services Corporation. That’s where Legal Aid of West Michigan gets at least 50 percent of its funding.

“It would be devastating,” said Salazar. “When you lose 50 percent of your finding, the consequences are pretty serious.”

Specifically, Salazar says that means Legal Aid wouldn’t be able to provide attorneys and lawyers to the elderly, low income, or homeless veterans of West Michigan who are seeking justice.

Salazar says, in his opinion, Legal Aid, like the theme of President Trump’s budget, puts Americans first.

“We’re based on equal justice under law, equal justice,” said Salazar, “it’s there in the preamble to the constitution.”

There could also be cuts to heating assistance and other programs.

The Trump administration however, points to other parts of the budget, such as proposed increases in spending for lead abatement for those with low incomes, among other items, saying it’s not all about cuts.

Regardless, Salazar says he’s confident that the president’s proposal to cut 50 percent of Legal Aid’s funding is just that, a proposal. Salazar says both local Republicans and Democrats support Legal Aid.

“Hopefully, when all the data is gathered and people are educated, we may have a different route, a different way to deal with this,” said Salazar.

As for the proposal, the final details and budget, and potential future of Legal Aid, will be left up to those in the House and Senate.

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