But before judiciary employees start pawning courthouse furniture and law books for cash, everyone might want to take a deep breath. Democrats have yet to identify any Republicans willing to vote for their plan. And without any GOP votes, the outgoing 2007-08 Legislature will effectively kick the $28 billion problem to the 2009-10 Legislature, which convenes next week but isn’t scheduled to start significant work until January.
The $35 million hit to the judiciary is peanuts compared to the major cuts planned for K-12 schools, higher education, public transit, SSI recipients and public transit. Democrats also want to restore the car tax - about a $135 charge for every $10,000 a vehicle is worth – and freeze an annual indexing of income tax levels, which would cost someone with an adjusted gross income between $50,000 and $100,000 roughly $127. The plan does not include a sales tax increase that the governor had proposed, nor would it create the spending cap that Republicans sought.
The judiciary already took a $92 million budget cut earlier this year, which judicial leaders divvied up among 54 courts around the state. The AOC’s chief executive, Bill Vickrey, said then that the courts could probably absorb the one-time hit without a significant impact on public services. But he warned that more reductions could spell trouble for operations. Today’s proposal probably wasn’t the holiday gift he was looking for.
But again, the Republicans have showed no interest in supporting any type of tax increase - income, sales, car or otherwise – so the outlook for the Democrats’ proposal looks grim. The question becomes, then, will the next proposal for reducing the budget deficit look even more draconian?
— Cheryl Miller