Governor needs to restore some of court funding
Gov. Jerry Brown keeps cutting funding for courts and his actions are putting into question the opening of the new South County Justice Facility in Porterville. While everyone needs to feel cuts, it appears the court system has seen a larger share of cuts and those cuts are beginning to impact the wheels of justice in the state.
Over the past couple of years the governor has not only cut millions of dollars out of the budget for the state’s courts, but he has robbed some of the money generated by the fines imposed by the courts.
This year, the governor is proposing to cut $200 million from court construction funds and that has postponed the construction of several planned courthouses, including one in Fresno. He has also proposed taking away another $125 million from the operating budget.
The cut to construction will not impact the local courthouse under construction in Porterville, but his cuts from the operating budget for the courts could.
With the new courthouse larger than what it is replacing, it will require more money to operate. There will be more employees needed and while some of those will be transferred here from Visalia, some will need to be hired. Cuts to the operation budget could delay the local courthouse from being full service when it opens in October.
Also, because of recent funding cuts, the Tulare County courts system has had to dig into its reserve to cover expenses. That reserve was destined to pay for the cost of moving into the new courthouse.
State Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was hopeful the governor would not cut another $125 million from the courts because voters passed Prop. 30, the higher taxes on wealthier Californians and a quarter percent increase in the sales tax, but the governor went ahead with the proposal.
Local Judge Glade Roper said the cuts are taking a toll, with fewer people having to do more. He said the state has also had to raise fees to cover expenses to the point that more and more residents cannot afford those fees.
The governor needs to ensure that the wheels of justice in California continue to roll.
Editorials in The Porterville Recorder are the opinion of the editorial board which consists of publisher Paula Patton, editor Rick Elkins and managing editor Brian Williams. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Recorder.