Maybe it’s because the judiciary’s general fund budget totals only about $2 billion — relative chump change in an $88 billion spending plan.
Maybe it’s because the chief justice is a persuasive lobbyist.(There he is being persuasive with the Gov in the file photo at right.)
Whatever the reason, the judiciary’s budget was spared Thursday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his revised 2009-10 budget (.pdf), a new and uglier spending plan that includes up to $21 billion in cuts.
“I think they [the governor’s staff] have been concerned all along that it’s difficult to make significant reductions without reducing access to the courts,” AOC chief Bill Vickrey said.
More after the jump.
Citing plummeting revenues, the governor is proposing major cuts to education — hey kids, how about five fewer days in the classroom next year?! — Medi-Cal, welfare and aid for the homebound. And all that’s if next Tuesday’s slate of ballot measures passes, which seems increasingly unlikely. If voters nix the measures, the governor also proposes releasing some non-violent inmates and shifting others to county jails, eliminating Prop. 36 drug abuse treatment, hiking park fees and making more cuts to schools and social safety-net programs.
Oh, and don’t forget the $6 billion in borrowing. Or the 5,000 layoffs, mostly in prisons and health and human service agencies.
Court leaders are already struggling with how to cope with the $100 million budget cut and security costs that are over budget. Labor groups are fighting a proposal to close courthouses one day a month. And law enforcement lobbies have suggested that court leaders dip into a $5 billion construction fund to close the gap, a move judicial administrators oppose.
“We don’t want to be in a position of sacrificing the future of the system,” Vickrey said. “If the bond money is spent on ongoing expenses, it may be a long, long time before we can go back and replace that money.”
Even though the state just endured a significant budget fight three months ago, expect more squabbling to start soon as the Legislature reviews the governor’s new budget figures.
— Cheryl Miller
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