Early Budget Advice: No More Cash For Courts

Anyone hoping the next state budget surplus might reverse years of court funding cuts might be disappointed with early advice being offered to lawmakers. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), the nonpartisan office which provides fiscal and policy information and advice to the Legislature” is setting the anticipated courts increase at zero.
The LAO fall forecast and report documents a solid financial footing, saying that “the state’s budgetary condition is stronger than at any time in the past decade. The state’s structural deficit—in which ongoing spending commitments were greater than projected revenues—is no more.” The report also says that “… the Legislature will make decisions about the state’s 2014–15 budget in the coming months… assuming no change to current law and policy, we project that the state would have a $5.6 billion General Fund reserve at the end of the 2014–15 fiscal year.” 
Despite those billions, the LAO anticipates no budget increase for courts, reporting that while lawmakers “… could decide to provide additional General Fund support in the future to offset [court[ reductions” the actual forecast “assumes that General Fund spending on the judicial branch will remain roughly flat at about $1.2 billion over the forecast period.” 
This is not a trivial group. The LAO reports directly to the 16-member state Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC). The LAO website says the office currently has a staff of 43 analysts and approximately 13 support staff. Thus, they are the early-early drafters of what will become the state budget discussion. Check out how taxpayer money might be spent in the coming years here.