Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye this week called for the creation of a Judicial Council Budget Committee to review recommendations on statewide budget changes, the use of statewide reserves, and proposals for grant funding for judicial branch innovations.

"There is no higher expression of Judicial Council policy priorities than how the council and the courts operate and expend limited public resources for equal access to justice," the Chief Justice wrote in a letter to Appellate Justice Douglas P. Miller, who chairs the council's Executive and Planning Committee.

In the letter, dated April 25, 2016, the Chief Justice asked Justice Miller to "initiate a process to facilitate the formation of this new committee" and to have it in place for the coming fiscal year. "Creating a Budget Committee is not only good governance and and sound government practice, it will also address issues raised by the State Auditor in 2015 concerning funds administered by the Judicial Branch."

In the letter, the Chief Justice alluded to the proposed State Budget for 2016-17, in which Governor Jerry Brown called for $30 million in grants to fund local and statewide judicial branch innovations.

In addition to the new Budget Committee, the Chief Justice asked Justice Miller to create an ad hoc working group of council and non-council members to develop "criteria for proposed court programs and services that may qualify to receive" grant funding.