The AOC’s Crystal Ball of Finance malfunctions again

Posted on March 18, 2014

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It’s pretty much a given fact that as you increase prices on goods and services, you are going to sell less of them. So it is no surprise that the public that we serve is reacting to the draconian fines and fees associated with any moving violation in part by changing their behavior.

On average, the price of a ticket exceeds one weeks pay on minimum wage. Now who is most likely to earn minimum or low wages? If you indicated people under 25, you would be correct. Up until the current generational dynamic of the millennials, people under 25, (known in current generational classification as the millennials) have traditionally also been the most expensive to insure and end up getting a larger share of tickets than other age groups due to immature driving habits.

That all changed with the millennials as they were the first generation to be hit with a required 50 hours of driving instruction before they could get a license. This kept them off the road for a few more years than their parents generation. In light of these new licensing requirements, high schools across the state eliminated their drivers education programs. The end result has been a generation that learned to get by without the expenses associated with owning and operating an automobile causing the demographics of a citation to shift dramatically. (JCW’s staff counts among them a collection of millennial offspring that either don’t have a license or don’t drive confirming this hypothesis) With rising prices for fines and fees, everybody else is learning that getting a ticket is cost prohibitive and it is changing driving behavior. All of this is supported by studies that can be found in media across the state over the past few years so it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone and certainly it should come as no surprise to the AOC.

People in general are buying less of our product (traffic and parking citations) because the expense has gone up. Worse, because many cannot afford to fork out for tickets that start at more than a weeks minimum wage, they’re not able to pay and the judicial branch is unable to collect.

Add to that a current generation of smart cars that message your cellphone 5 minutes before you need to feed the meter and a collection of smartphone apps that do something similar and projections for parking tickets will also need to be revisited.

Also add to this small towns several hours away from the nearest courthouse that have dramatically reduced issuing traffic citations because their municipalities can’t afford to take an officer off the street for a day to travel to the nearest courthouse 2-3 hours away and it all should have served to revise the AOC’s financial projections.

All of this brings us to the AOC’s crystal ball of finance.

While our Chief Justice was bloviating in front of the state senate what was coming out of the crystal palace where the crystal ball of finance is kept is that the AOC has either misrepresented or mis-projected anticipated revenue by more than 70 million dollars in the current fiscal year.

Shit still rolls down hill and the local courthouse still sits at the bottom of the hill last we checked – and that’s unfortunate.

 

While we are waiting to find out more about this, the AOC should have known far earlier than 3/4 of the way through the fiscal year how these finances were trending statewide, which would make the late release of information entirely inexcusable and the pain caused to trial courts pain that might have been mitigated.

It also means that a proposed increase of a hundred million dollars is actually a net gain of only 30 million dollars as everyone has spent or is projected to spend most of their buckets of cash for the current fiscal year already.

Will the AOC stop their spending spree and eliminate their year end spending spree to reduce the pain on the trial courts? History has shown that there is no will at the judicial council level to even contemplate such a thing. And who will be held accountable? No one of course.

Just a few more items the state auditor needs to look into.