The Alliance Plan for Trial Court Funding Stabilization

Posted on July 17, 2011

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Here is a proposal that was sent to all judges from the Alliance of California Judges a few hours ago. In this model, the Alliance has provided reasonably clear case examples of places where cuts can be made within the AOC. By working their numbers they’ve produced significant savings out of the AOC’s bloated operations. What they haven’t done is gone the extra mile to ensure there weren’t so many chiefs and so few indians. With respect to leaks coming out of the AOC’s HR department, the impacts and reductions won’t be hitting the management ranks. They will be hitting worker ranks. Knowing the AOC like we do, the management ratio will drop to less than 2 workers for every one manager. If you combine many of the ideas between Judicial Council Watcher and the Alliance of California Judges, the savings are more dramatic and more realistic. The challenge is who dares tell a bunch of managers at the AOC that they’re out of a job due to management bloat?

Food for thought being passed around and sent in by a regular reader: Just one year ago today, Presiding Judge Charles McCoy was castigated by Chief Justice George and Bill Vickrey for laying off non-essential staff rather than eat into his court reserves.   They said McCoy was “playing politics” with people’s lives.   The Chief said that he and Bill never had and never would preside over court closures and layoffs.  Apparently the San Francisco Superior Court believed this, and blew through a $10 million reserve hoping to avoid layoffs. Now San Francisco is having to lay off two hundred employees including commissioners and close courtrooms, stating that the public may have to wait in line all day to pay traffic fines or wait five years before a civil case is heard. Meanwhile, L.A. still has its reserves. Commissioners and courtrooms will be the last to go.

George and Vickrey never would preside over court closures and layoffs. They both bailed, leaving everyone else to clean up their mess.

The magic number Judicial Council Watcher would be looking for in this proposal would be 850+ judges that support it from all over the state. This kind of number will engender greater legislative and media support in the event that the Judicial Council doesn’t do the right thing.

___________________________________________________________

July 17, 2011

Dear Fellow Judges:

The Alliance of California Judges specifically proposes that on July 22, 2011, the Judicial Council direct staff to provide for $134 million in mitigation to the trial courts for 2011- 2012 beyond the proposed mitigation which emerged from the Trial Court Budget Working Group meeting on July 13, 2011.  We call upon voting members of the Judicial Council to move, second, and support this option, or a similar option. Furthermore, the Judicial Council must not act now on the proposal for across the board 15.2% reductions next year; that proposal is premature.

As noted in our letter of July 7, 2011, there are funds available to accomplish this one-time additional mitigation.  We suggest that this additional mitigation be apportioned among (1) further AOC staff and operations reductions, (2) construction funds, and (3) maintenance and operation of CCMS V2, V3, and V4, and CCTC hosting of CCMS (including a complete cessation of CCMS activities, if necessary).

The Alliance continues to speak to the Legislature.  We were there last week.  All methods of mitigation proposed must be reported by law to the Legislature as part of this last budget package.  We believe that the Legislature is looking closely to ensure that the Judiciary is making every possible effort to put resources into the trial courts to keep as many local functions available to their constituents as possible.  Continuing with an overstaffed central bureaucracy and continued funding of an improbable computer system is simply not an option.

We also remind judges of the importance of enacting AB 1208.  That law assures every trial court of a basic baseline level of funding without reduction for unapproved statewide initiatives that lack legislative approval or broad consensus within the branch. Had AB 1208 been the law, $600 million would not have been wasted on CCMS.

We urge that every judge read this letter.  If you agree, we ask you to join us.  Simply reply to this email that you wish to be a member and give us your preferred email address.  If you know of a judge who has not received this letter, please provide a copy.

The additional mitigation is essential for the purpose of allowing the trial courts to phase in the most reasonable application of reserves over a three year period (to Fiscal Year 2013- 2014) to implement and plan RIF/RIS (reduction in force/reduction in service) incrementally, rather than an immediate cessation of what appears to mean a minimum 15% to 20% reduction to be achieved for most courts (with some courts like San Francisco having to impose immediate 40% reductions).  Since the courts are required by law to give 60 days’ notice to implement major reductions, the window to get to the 15% to 20% reductions is compressed to less than 7 months.

The money is there.  It needs to be used to support the Chief Justice’s call for open and available courts as the judicial branch’s first priority.

The following table reviews the AOC’s current calculation of trial court reductions after action by the TCBWG:

Base Reductions

 

   Baseline Reduction 09- 10 -$92,240,000
   Baseline Reduction 09- 10 -168,569,000
   New Ongoing Reduction 10- 11 -25,000,000
   Ongoing Reduction 11- 12 -175,174,607
   Add’l Ongoing Reduction 11- 12 -144,300,430
Total Reductions -$605,284,037
Funding Transfers FY 2011- 2012
   Facilities Construction Funds $130,000,000
   Facilities Modification Funding 20,000,000
   Modernization Fund 20,000,000
   CCMS 10,000,000
Subtotal $180,000,000
Add’l Funding Transfers 11- 12
   SCFCF $25,000,000
   ICNA 38,000,000
   CCMS 56,391,289
   Court Interpreter Reserves 4,800,000
Subtotal $124,191,289
New Revenues (2009 Act) $6,500,000
New Revenues (2010 Act) 64,080,000
Total Reduction -$230,512,748
Reduction Adjustments
   Share of Other Prog. Reductions $6,662,815
   Security Share of Reduction 17,049,000
   Court Appointed Counsel Shortfall -3,537,500
Cumulative Allocation Reduction -$210,338,433
Less: Prior Year Reduction 75,832,000
Trial Court Operations Funding Adj. -$134,506,433

The AOC has a salaries and benefits operation of approximately $100 million.  The TCBWG proposal reduces AOC operations by only 12 per cent.  This number needs to be substantially increased in favor of trial court mitigation.  An example follows at the end of this letter, saving approximately $50 million.  In the example, this level of savings is achieved by reducing the operational level of the Executive Division, General Counsel, Office of Government Affairs, Judicial Education, the Executive Office Program, the Regional Offices, a 25% reduction to the Finance Division, and 50% reductions to Human Services and Information Services.

There remains further funding associated with CCMS.  There is at least $34,925,534 of maintenance and operations and project funding as follows:

Maintenance and Operations

   Criminal and Traffic (V2) (Fresno) $6,554,167
   Civil, Probate, etc. (V3) 13,787,927
   CCMS (V4) 8,867,477
Projects
   CCMS Development 3,399,687
   CCMS V4 Deployment 2,316,306
Total $34,925,564

This continues to represent $35 million as an annual expenditure to support only a portion of case management systems of seven courts.  This product should be delivered to these courts to be operated on their own servers by their own IT staff within their own budgets.  The CCMS project cannot continue.

In addition, as we have explained in our July 7 letter, there remain additional construction funds as we see the budget for further mitigation.  Fund Condition Statements reveal that the State Court Facilities Construction Fund has a beginning balance of $382 million.  There is $141 million of projected revenue, and a General Fund transfer of $350 million, leaving a total fund balance before expenditures of $173 million.

The Immediate and Critical Needs Account (SB 1407) has a beginning balance of $366 million with projected revenues of $319 million, for total resources of $685 million.  There has been an AB 110 loan from this account to the General Fund of $90 million, leaving $595 million. Of this amount, $26 million is to be expended for state operations and $420 million for capital outlay on court construction projects.  We understand that court construction will be delayed one year, and the enacted budget sweeps $310 million back to the general fund.

We are not suggesting that any one of these sources be completely depleted to increase trial court mitigation, but all possible available funds must be devoted to that purpose.  The Judicial Council must act independently of staff to achieve this outcome.

Also, this further mitigation must come with recognition by all trial courts that this is not an opportunity to continue to defer structural reductions in the hope of a better budget outcome.  This proposed mitigation must be viewed as a one-time opportunity to blunt the immediate impact of reductions and to phase those reductions.

Very truly yours,

Directors of the Alliance of California Judges

Andrew Banks

E. Jeffrey Burke

Tia Fisher

Mark Forcum

Maryanne Gilliard

Daniel Goldstein

W. Kent Hamlin

Michael Hayes

H. Thomas Hollenhorst

David Lampe

Susan Lopez-Giss

Kevin McCormick

John Somers

Steve White

Example of Staff Funding Reductions for the AOC

Reduction of AOC Staff Services
     Executive Division No. of Positions
          Appellate and Trial Court Services
               Division Director 1 $221,952.00
               Supervising Court Services Analyst 2 $234,274.00
               Lead Management and Program Analyst 1 $95,856.00
               Senior Court Services Analyst 1 $91,296.00
               Supervising Administrative Coordinator 1 $87,108.00
               Court Services Analyst 1 $83,100.00
               Senior Administrative Coordinator 2 $151,464.00
               Administrative Coordinator II 3 $202,656.00
               Administrative Coordinator I 1 $59,158.00
               Administrative Secretary 1 $58,824.00
Subtotal $1,285,688.00
     Office of the General Counsel
               Managing Attorney 3 to 1 $156,548.00
               Supervising Attorney 3 to 1 $141,765.00
               Senior Attorneys 8 to 4 $571,660.00
               Attorney 21 to 10 $1,280,428.00
               Supervising Administrative Coordinator 1 $82,082.00
               Court Services Analyst 2 $164,796.00
               Administrative Coordinator II 2 $134,172.00
               Administrative Coordinator I 2 $116,205.00
          Regional Office Assistance Group All $1,373,533.00
          Civil Justice Center All $210,105.00
Subtotal $4,231,294.00
     Office of Governmental Affairs
               Senior Attorney 2 to 1 $136,260.00
               Attorney 1 $107,785.00
               Senior Government Affairs Analyst 3 to 1 $169,912.00
               Supervising Administrative Coordinator 1 $82,620.00
               Administrative Coordinator 2 $115,753.00
               Overtime $1,476.00
Subtotal $613,806.00
       Judicial Education and Research All $8,237,842.00
       Executive Office Program All but Interpreters $6,255,808.00
       Regional Offices All $5,372,789.00
       Finance Division 25% $6,569,460.75
       Human Resources 50% $2,290,575.50
       Information Services 50% $7,114,470.50
Total Reductions $41,971,733.75
     Plus Approx. 25% Benefits Savings $10,492,933.44
Total Savings $52,464,667.19