Thursday, May. 5, 2011
State budget update and call-to-action
Weigh-in with your senator on court budget and bar advocates
No branch of government has been harder hit throughout this
fiscal crisis than the judiciary. FY11 funding for the Trial Court
is $544.1 million (down $39.6 million from FY09). The House of
Representatives recently enacted its version of the budget, funding
the court at $520.5 million, which is a $23.6 million cut from the
current operating budget. The courts are faced with a continuing
hiring freeze and are down 1,011 positions since October 2008.
Court leadership continues to aggressively pursue every avenue
where cost savings can be achieved. Rank and file judges have
forsaken pay by voluntarily participating in a pay furlough.
The Senate is finalizing its budget for consideration later this
month. It is vital that you reach out to your state senator to
articulate the need for adequate funding for the judiciary to serve
the 42,000 citizens who enter our courts each and every day.
Click here to find out who your senator
Click here to contact your senator.
The House Budget provided $151 million for the Committee for
Public Counsel Services and adds 200 staff attorneys while capping
hours of assigned private counsel at 1,650 from the current cap of
1,800 hours per year. Please advocate to your senator for the
continued support of the current private bar advocate system. The
MBA believes the current system works well and the tremendous
and unforeseen start up costs associated with new legislation that
would require the hiring of hundreds of new state employees
will prove more costly. Costs associated with office space, support
staff, salary and training will not only have short and long-term
implications for our state's struggling economy, but will also
greatly affect the quality of advocacy. Please call your local
senator to urge him/her to reject this plan and instead advocate
for greater indigency and cost controls while maintaining the
existing private system that has been recognized as a national
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that
most states with public defender systems are struggling because of
a lack of funding along with burgeoning caseloads and escalating
costs to the public.