California Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye today issued this statement on the Governor's May budget revise:
The Governor’s May Revision to his proposed budget for the Judicial Branch is welcome news. It builds on his January budget proposal, restores previous cuts, expands pretrial programs focused on the safe and efficient release of arrestees, supports ongoing Judicial Council programs that address the needs of low-income court users, alleviates burdensome fines and fees for those who can’t afford them, and addresses pressing court infrastructure needs. In addition, his proposal bolsters efforts to assist courts recovering from pandemic-related challenges and backlogs.”
The revised budget proposal supports all judicial branch proposals introduced in January, with new funding proposed that includes:
- Debt Forgiveness: $300 million in one-time federal funds for a debt forgiveness program for low-income people to apply for full relief of outstanding fine and fee debt from infractions.
- Pretrial Funding: $140 million in 2021–22 and $70 million from 2022–23 onward to expand Pretrial Pilot Programs. $70 million will go to courts that did not previously receive pretrial pilot program funding; the remaining $70 million (and ongoing) will be distributed by the Judicial Council to all 58 trial courts.
- COVID-Driven Caseload Backlog Funding: up to $60 million in one-time money for trial courts to address civil and criminal case backlogs and workload delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic upon review and approval by the California Department of Finance.
- Early Disposition Readiness Conference Program: $30 million in one-time funds to support the Chief Justice’s program aiding the timely adjudication of criminal cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Legal Aid: $20 million in federal funds over three years for legal aid organizations.
The January budget proposal included $2.1 billion over five years to fund construction of critically needed new courthouses, including 14 replacement and renovation projects on a priority list approved by the Judicial Council. The updated proposal adds about $40 million for three additional projects in Butte, Monterey, and San Bernardino counties to begin in the coming fiscal year.
See full details of the Governor's revised budget proposal.