Dear Bar Leaders,
Last week, Governor Patrick signed the FY10 budget and vetoed $18.5 million in Trial Court funding, which reduced our budget to $550.7 million from the $569.1 million recommended by the Legislative Conference Committee.
We now must work diligently to achieve an override of all of these vetoes and restore Trial Court funding to $569.1 million. Although the House and Senate have not yet announced the schedule for taking up the Governor’s vetoes, we think it prudent to begin our advocacy efforts now. We ask that you and your members contact your local representatives in the House and Senate to urge an override of the court funding vetoes.
The Governor’s reductions, if they stand, will have dramatic impact on court operations. The Trial Court cannot adequately function statewide at the $550 million level, $51 million less than our original appropriation for FY09.
We must mount an effective advocacy effort with Legislative leaders and members to override these vetoes. Although Trial Court funding comprises only 2.08 percent of the Legislature's FY10 budget, the $18.5M in Trial Court vetoes effectively represents 12.5 percent of the total vetoed by the Governor.
Throughout the budget process we have worked closely with the Legislature to achieve adequate funding to sustain the core functions of court operations. Since last year, we have significantly reduced expenses through a number of strategic management decisions. The Trial Court has reduced staffing by 275 positions and made cuts in many other areas, including the relocation of court operations. In addition, we expect staffing levels to decline by another 100 positions through attrition in FY10 and recognize the need to continue to identify every available way to reduce costs in FY10.
Court staff and Massachusetts citizens already are experiencing the strain of these major efforts. The Governor’s budget would require involuntary reductions in the Trial Court workforce, which will severely impair the delivery of justice in the Commonwealth. The attached fact sheet highlights potential impact of those additional cuts on the courts.
The staunch support of bar leaders and members will be essential, as we work together to restore the funding vetoed by the Governor. Thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of the Massachusetts courts.
|Margaret H. Marshall
Supreme Judicial Court
Robert A. Mulligan
Chief Justice for
Administration & Management