Courts Begin New System For Rationing Budget

It was just a “drop in the bucket,” according to California’s chief courts fiscal officer, but the restored funding from our recently passed state budget is being allocated under a new formula that creates winners and losers. The San Francisco Appeal website has a good accounting of its local situation, noting that the “increase” actually “… still leaves the superior courts $201 million short of the amount received last year, on top of previous cuts of $214 million.”
The website explains “… the new allocation formula, developed by an advisory committee of judges and court executives, takes account of varying court workloads that may have changed in recent years because of population growth or other factors. The previous formula, used for the past 15 years, was based primarily on the share each superior court had in 1998, the year the state government took over court funding from the individual counties. That approach didn’t keep up with increased court workloads in counties where the population grew faster.”
The $60 million added to the state budget at the last minute is considered “new” spending and will come under the new guidelines.
In the Bay Area, it’s been widely reported that Contra Costa, Monterey, Solano and Sonoma county superior courts will get more funding under the new system than they would have under the old formula. Los Angeles Superior Court is also expected to get a slight increase over what it would have gotten before.