House of Representatives passes its version of the FY14 budget

Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013
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Last night the House of Representatives passed its version of the FY14 budget. The House added $135 million into the budget originally proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee.  Several areas of the budget, which were supported by the Massachusetts Bar Association, met with successful outcomes after budget deliberations.

Judicial Pay Increase

Included in the House budget is a long-sought-after compensation increase for Massachusetts judges. It is an incremental increase happening in three stages. On Jan. 1, 2014, trial court judges' salaries will rise to $144,694; on July 1, 2014 they will rise to $154,694 and on July 1, 2015 they will rise to $159,694. The budget included $5.7 million for the first phase of the increase.

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) was successful in having $2 million added to its budget. Although it is $2.5 million less than what MLAC requested, it is $1 million dollars more than MLAC's FY2013 budget of $12 million.

Committee for Public Counsel Services

The two sections of concern that would have established a pilot program in Middlesex County shifting 25 percent of new district court cases to attorneys affiliated with private or non-profit entities on a caped, flat-fee basis rather than assigned private counsel were stricken from the budget. The MBA was concerned that this would affect the quality of representation.

Trial Court

In addition to the compensation increase, the Trial Court was given an additional $6 million in its general operations line item bringing total Trial Court funding to $573.8 million, still lower than the $589.5 million maintenance request.

Attention now turns to the Senate, who will take up their version of the budget in May. Both branches will then appoint a conference committee charged with working out differences between the two budgets. After an up-or-down vote by both branches on the conference committee's proposal, the budget is sent to Gov. Deval L. Patrick for his review.