Budget Woes in California Courts

California’s judicial branch has seen a cut of $1 billion in the last five years, a reduction of nearly 65 percent. This has meant, since 2010 that 22 courthouses have and another 30 courts have cut back hours. In addition, more than 2,000 court staff have been laid off and 50 courts have imposed staff furloughs, according to a judiciary summary of the impacts of budget cuts on the courts.

Without a restoration of funding, specialty courts will begin to fall by the wayside, These courts generally serve poor and vulnerable populations, such as homeless court, domestic violence court, drug courts and mental health courts.

The news did not get better when Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his revised spending plan in mid-May.  It contained no additional money for the California courts in the coming fiscal year.

“I’m disappointed that the governor’s revised budget proposals provide no more fiscal relief to the courts,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said earlier this month.  “I had hoped for more effort to help stop the downward spiral of the judicial branch budget.”

She is asking lawmakeras to eliminate cuts and restore court funding to earlier levels.