The Legislature will consider a revised budget Wednesday that includes $150 million in unallocated cuts to the judicial branch.
Curtis Child, chief lobbyist for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the hit will “definitely cut deep into court operations” and could lead to a new round of court closures and cutbacks to programs, including courthouse construction and the Court Case Management System.
“These kinds of reductions on top of the $200 million in reductions that were made in spring would be absolutely devastating to the branch,” Child said.
Legislative Democrats have cobbled together a budget that relies almost entirely on cuts, fund shifts and deferred payments after failing to reach a deal with Republicans to put tax extensions on the ballot. Without the tax issue, Democrats can approve most of the budget on a majority vote – without a single “aye” from Republicans.
The budget would also reinstate the sale of 11 state-owned buildings, including the attorney general building in Sacramento and the Supreme Court’s home in the Civic Center Complex. Gov. Jerry Brown canceled the much-criticized sale in February, which led to a lawsuit by the investor group that agreed to buy the buildings.
The Judicial Council has yet to vote on a plan to absorb the $200 million cuts prescribed by the original state budge enacted in March. The Legislature directed the Council to offset most of the cuts with money from construction funds.
The latest round of cuts is sure to be a central theme in Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature on June 30.
Update: Just before 9:30 p.m., the chief justice issued the following statement in response to the proposed budget cut:
“This budget proposal is devastating and crippling to the judicial branch and to the public it serves. Courts have taken massive reductions over the past few years, and already took $200 million in reductions for next year.
“Courts affect every part of our state’s life — including convicting criminals and freeing the innocent; enhancing public safety; enforcing contracts; providing a forum for resolving business disputes; and protecting children, the elderly, consumers, the environment — in short, protecting the people’s rights.
"With these cuts courts cannot provide these fundamental services or protect the rights of Californians. By marginalizing the courts, California strikes a blow against justice."