The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 18, 2013

Alabama Chief Justice: Budget plan wiping out courts



MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's new chief justice, Roy Moore, said the state judicial system is in danger and conditions will worsen if the Legislature approves a budget recommended by the governor.

Moore said the system already is understaffed because of long-standing budget problems, and the governor's plan could mean more layoffs.

"We are basically being cut out of existence," Moore said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Gov. Robert Bentley has proposed a state General Fund budget that would give the court system $100.3 million for the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1. That's down from $102.8 million this fiscal year.

The current budget is nearly a $23 million cut from the prior year's plan. To make up for the cut, the Legislature voted last year to raise the fees on all types of court cases ranging from traffic tickets to felonies. That was supposed to generate $25 million for the state's trial and appellate courts and $5 million for county circuit clerk's offices.

But Moore, who took office in January, said the fees are coming in at slightly less than half of what officials predicted last year, and the courts will end the year $13 million short of what they expected.

In addition, the governor's proposed budget doesn't account for a $6 million increase in mandated costs, primarily rising health insurance premiums for employees, he said.

Moore figures he would go into the new budget year behind by $19 million. "That could result in losing 25 percent of the people we have left," he said.

Moore wrote the governor Feb. 8 about his concerns. The governor's spokesman, Jeremy King, said Friday that they are not commenting.

The Alabama Constitution says the judicial system shall receive "adequate and reasonable funding." Moore faced budget problems when he began his first term as chief justice in January 2001. The General Fund appropriation back then was $120.1 million, which was more than the courts are getting 12 years later.

Text Only
Local News
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee