Brown’s budget: Bad news for the courts, good news for the AOC

Posted on January 10, 2013


We’ve been made privy to the approximate amount of cuts in human resources, courtrooms and whole courthouses that would be coming down the pipeline in the event that either a) One of the previous loans made from branch funds to the general fund was not repaid or b) there was neither an increase in funding or a sizable shift from AOC operations including construction to the trial courts.

Thanks to the help of other readers we  know that the current budget as proposed is devastating to the courts. Nearly every program that requires reimbursement from the AOC will be available to courts that are either historically properly or over-funded. These programs that exist in strained courts will vanish within the next year because they won’t be structurally able to wait for reimbursement without reserves.

While we commend Governor Jerry Brown for pushing the envelope and coming up with a balanced budget that has no deficit component and is living within our means, this budget amounts to an immeasurable sacrifice for financially challenged courts that will be forced to discontinue whole programs and lay of all of the personnel associated with those programs. Even the “richer” courts, and I use that term tongue in cheek, will be forced to reconsider these programs because as we all know AOC reimbursement is never a sure thing.

Looking at the whole budget without consideration to the judicial branch, everyone still feels the pain and a variety of other entities, local, county, state agencies including the judicial branch, are owed a collective 29 billion dollars from the state.

Remember IOU 2009?

As much as it hurts, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget is a responsible budget. Our challenge as a branch is convincing the other two branches that our trial courts need more funding and give them a map to secure that funding for those courts. Somehow, the Judicial Council is going to need to learn to live way leaner and that message also needs to be conveyed.

As mentioned by others, DMV funding seems like an obvious choice since it is motorists that clog the system. If we secure something steady like a DMV funding source, it would also appear to address some, but not all of the historical under funding issues if disbursements were based on registered vehicles and drivers in each county.