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Lawmaker panel approves some court funding

April 03, 2013|By Chris Megerian

SACRAMENTO -- An Assembly subcommittee voted Wednesday to restore $418 million to California's judiciary, but not before one lawmaker shared some tough words for the state's court system.

“While the state grappled with a budget crisis, court administrators sometimes have acted fiscally irresponsible,” Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) said in his statement.

He noted that the judiciary spent almost half a billion dollars upgrading the database for court records, then abandoned the struggling project.

The funding increase, part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, is intended to reverse some of the recent cuts that have been suffered by the courts.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, said almost half of the increase comes from transferring money from court construction to operations.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has sharply criticized reduced state funding, saying it has cut hours at some courts and caused others to close.

"What we once counted on — that courts would be open, available and ready to dispense prompt justice — no longer exists in California," she said last month.

Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) said she was concerned about years of budget cuts to the courts.

“By eliminating the funding like we’re doing, we’re eliminating the third branch of government,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a good way to run the state.”

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Twitter: @chrismegerian

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