Brown’s new proposal adds $160 million to state court
By Laura Ernde
With weeks to go before the state budget is due to be finalized, California courts appear likely to receive a significant boost in funding. But it's unclear whether the increase will be enough to prevent continued court closures.
The judicial branch was among the few state entities to receive
a boost in state funding in Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget last month. Brown’s new spending plan released May 13 called for a $160
million increase in court funding, up from $100 million he called for in
January. In addition, he promised to match a 5 percent increase for the trial
courts next year.
The state legislature showed support for a more significant budget increase. Senate and Assembly budget subcommittee
voted separately last month to give the courts an additional $280 million. Legislative
leaders are expected to negotiate a final deal with Brown by June 15.
Brown’s proposal fell short of what Chief Justice Tani
Cantil-Sakauye has said it would take to fully fund the courts – an added $1.2
billion over three years. Still, she called the revised budget
“encouraging because it identifies additional funding and recognizes the need
for fiscal stability with a creative proposal for a two-year budgeting formula
for the trial courts.”
Responding to Brown’s call for running the courts more
efficiently, Cantil-Sakauye said she is launching a blue ribbon commission on
the future of the courts later this year.
Likewise, State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez praised the
governor for recognizing the need for additional funds for the judicial branch.
“Gov. Brown is tasked with preserving the financial health
of our state while providing necessary funding for services crucial to the
well-being of the people of California. With this latest funding proposal for
the courts, Gov. Brown has shown that he is committed to access to justice,”
Rodriguez said. “We are also deeply committed to the chief justice’s ongoing
efforts to increase access to justice, as she continues her efforts to find
more efficient ways to deliver justice to California’s population.”
Brown’s newest budget
proposal came shortly after he negotiated a deal with the legislature to
pay down the state’s debt and set aside money for the next economic downturn.
The May revision also incorporated more than $2 billion in added costs for things
such as providing health care coverage under Medi-Cal, emergency drought
assistance and mandated education funding.