The financial situation for California’s courts continues to go downhill. Over the past four fiscal years, the judicial branch has seen a cumulative reduction of 23 percent in funding, roughly $653 million. That’s down from what had been a $3 billion annual budget. Now more cuts are expected when the governor issues his revised budget next week.
The Judicial Council, headed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, has called a special business meeting for May 17 in Sacramento to review the latest bad news and consider options. A live audiocast will be on the California Courts website.
The courts’ administration didn’t do themselves any favors in recent months with the shelving of a half-billion-dollar computer technology program that has failed to link the courts statewide as promised a decade ago.
The Legislature was decidedly unhappy and the council ultimately killed any further development of the program.
Cantil-Sakauye also expects a report next month from a 14-member committee she formed last year to take a top-to-bottom look at the courts’ central operations, the Administrative Office of the Courts.
It is pretty clear there is only one way for that report to go – more cuts at the administrative level and downsizing of administration.
Around the state, county courts have shortened hours and reduced staffing.
(Photo: Library of Congress, Hoboken, NJ 1915)