Kentucky Court of Justice
Judicial Branch to shut down for 3 days as part of FY 2013 budget reduction plan
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Judicial Branch employees learned today that they will be furloughed for three days in the first half of Fiscal Year 2013 as a result of deep cuts the Kentucky General Assembly made to the court system’s budget for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. The furloughs will close courthouses statewide on Aug. 6, Sept. 4 and Oct. 15, 2012.
This marks the first time since Kentucky’s modern court system was formed in 1976 that the Judicial Branch must close courthouse doors to balance its budget.
Furloughs are one of several measures included in the Judicial Branch’s budget reduction plan for FY 2013. Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. announced details of the plan today in an email to all Kentucky Court of Justice personnel. He also noted that the legislature did not fund a pay equity plan that would make Judicial Branch salaries competitive with the other two branches of government and a capital project to replace the court system’s obsolete case management system, which is at risk for failure.
With final passage of House Bill 269, the Kentucky General Assembly reduced the total funds available to the Judicial Branch by $25.2 million for Fiscal Year 2013. This includes a permanent reduction to the annual base operating budget of $16.2 million and a one-time transfer of $9 million in payroll to the state’s general fund by June 30, 2012. The legislature mandated that this amount for the June 30 state payroll be moved to July 2 to shift that expense to the next fiscal year.
“Our situation is serious,” Chief Justice Minton said. “In spite of our efforts to secure adequate funding, the legislature’s appropriation is far short of what is necessary to operate the Kentucky court system for the next two years. These recent reductions are especially challenging because they’ve come quickly on the heels of other cutbacks.”
Since the economic crisis began in 2008, the Judicial Branch has cut 282 employees statewide, eliminated court programs and trimmed operating costs at all four levels of the court system to stay within budget.
“Until now, we were able to take aggressive measures to avoid furloughs and keep courts open,” Chief Justice Minton said. “But there are only so many places to cut in a court operations budget that is 86 percent personnel. When there’s such a large gap between what we ask for and what we receive, difficult decisions must be made.”
The following actions will take effect July 1, 2012, unless otherwise noted:
FY 2013 BUDGET REDUCTION PLAN
• Close the Kentucky court system statewide to furlough all KCOJ employees for three days in 2012 – Aug. 6, Sept. 4 and Oct. 15.
• Implement hiring restrictions requiring a new process to fill vacancies.
• Convert 100-hour part-time employees with benefits to 80-hour part-time employees without benefits on June 30, 2013.
• Reduce and cap the number of Drug Court participants.
• Reduce operating expenditures by $1.6 million.
• Eliminate the Kentucky High School Mock Trial Tournament program.
Criminal Record Reports
• Charge Kentucky schools $10 for criminal record reports they currently receive for free.
• Increase the cost of criminal record reports for all other customers from $15 to $20.
The Supreme Court and leadership from the Administrative Office of the Courts will meet again in January 2013 to determine if additional furloughs and reductions are necessary for the remainder of FY 2013, which runs July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. They will also begin drafting a budget reduction plan for FY 2014, which presents an even greater shortfall than in FY 2013.
The chief justice of Kentucky is the administrative head of the state’s court system and is responsible for its operation. The Administrative Office of the Courts is the operational arm of the court system. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks.