The AOC’s “Spare the Queen” budget cuts

Posted on May 13, 2011

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The nice thing about being a faceless bureaucrat in San Francisco that has directly supported and has deep ties to the Judicial Council, Appellate and Supreme Courts is that when budget cuts such as this come down, you know who butters your bread. You’re more likely to write up something far more favorable for yourselves than others, like the trial courts you more recently inherited.

And sometimes people will object.


5/12/11

Dear Mr. Vickrey:

The Alliance of California Judges opposes the Administrative Office of the Courts proposed allocation of the $200.0 million general fund reduction to the judicial branch stated in the current 2011- 2012 budget.  The allocation proposed by the AOC results in an inappropriate $20.4 million excess reduction to the trial courts.  This issue was raised by Majority Leader Charles Calderon in his testimony in support of AB 1208 last Tuesday, May 3, 2011.  The issue further demonstrates why AB 1208 must be enacted.

The issue is stated as follows. The total State General Fund Allocation to the Branch is $2.077 billion.  Of that amount, the Trial Court share is 78.6% or $1.37 billion (excluding judicial compensation and assigned judges).  The Governor proposed a $200 million unallocated cut from the General Fund Support to the Judiciary.  Seventy-eight per cent of this cut is $157 million.  The AOC proposed an across the board 6.8 % reduction to all judicial branch programs.  However, what the AOC did was add back into revenues TCTF money and TCIF money to the trial courts, and then apply the percentage reduction.  This increased the trial court share of the reduction by $20.4 million, and reduced the AOC share by $3.452 million.  The AOC proposes a trial court reduction of $177 million instead of $157 million. In other words the AOC used non-general fund resources to inflate the general fund reduction to the trial courts.

A table showing this calculation is as follows:

Program
State General Fund Allocation
Pro-rata Share
Share of reduction
AOC 6.8% Reduction
Adjustment
 
 
 
 
 
 
Supreme Court [10]
45,608,000
2.80%
5,205,923
2,092,895
-3,113,028
Courts of Appeal [20]
207,295,000
11.80%
23,661,679
10,360,594
-13,301,085
Judicial Council/AOC
99,909,000
5.70%
11,404,109
7,952,101
-3,452,008
Facility Program [35]
9,235,000
0.50%
1,054,129
80,590
-973,439
Trial Court Operations [45]
1,349,145,000
77.00%
153,998,098
176,719,484
+22,721,386
Judicial Compensation and Assigned Judges
324,563,000
0%
0%
0%
0
Trial Court Grants
21,177,000
1.60%
3,102,118
1,853,716
-1,248,402
Habeas Corpus Center
13,789,000
0.80%
1,573,945
940,520
-633,425

 

Simply put, by adding back funds supporting the trial courts from sources other than the General Fund into the calculation of General Fund reductions, the AOC has inflated the trail court share of general revenue reductions by $20.4 million, or an additional 10% of the Governor’s proposed $200.0 million general fund reduction.

We are not suggesting that other court functions as stated in the above table receive further reductions.  However, the Judicial Council/AOC has a budget of $142.0 million not counting the Court Facilities Program of $229.0 million.  We suggest that the AOC immediately begin targeting a proposed $30.0 million reduction to its own budget, rather than disproportionately visiting that amount upon the trial courts.  If that amount is unconscionable in the AOC’s view, the difference should be made up by use of the Modernization Fund, and the remaining resources of the Trial Court Improvement Fund, not trial court funds.

Thank you.

Directors,

Alliance of California Judges

cc:  Presiding Judges, Judicial Council members