« Ind. Gov't. - Senate committee to consider "no more stringent" on steriods bill tomorrow [Updated] | Main | Ind. Decisions - "Court rules against DNR in high-fence hunting fight" [Updated] »

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ind. Courts - The judicial branch budget at local and state levels

In a post earlier this month, the ILB quoted from a story by Dan Carden of the NWI Times:

Republican Gov. Mike Pence did not include money for court e-filing in his proposed state budget, but he also did not spend some $600 million in anticipated revenue. He said he was leaving it up to lawmakers to decide how to allocate some of that extra money.
and then commented:
The ILB found this statement interesting, given that we have three equal branches of government: "Gov. Mike Pence did not include money for court e-filing in his proposed state budget."
For years we have seen disputes over county budgets, where the county commissioners have cut money from the local courts' funding requests. At times, the local judges have protested the cuts and brought actions in mandate, which, if they reach the Supreme Court without settlement, are nearly always successful.

The ILB wrote an article on "Separation of Powers in the County Courthouse" in 2005; it is available here.

Over the years, the Supreme Court, starting with Chief Justice Shepard, has made an effort to incrementally bring funding of local courts and court officers into the state budget. This year, for instance, Chief Justice Rush has asked to have local probation officers brought into her budget.

I've often wondered what would happen if, or when, the judicial branch and the legislative branch would conflict over the proper level of funding for the courts. As noted above, we are far from that, currently the judicial branch' request is part of the executive budget request...

This all came to mind today when I saw this post from Gavel to Gavel, headed "Montana: governor shouldn’t be able to alter judiciary’s budget request to the legislature." Bill Raftery wrrites:

A key protection for the independence of the judiciary developed over the last several decades has been the practice of direct submission of the judiciary’s budget request to the legislature or, failing that, submission to the governor with a proviso that the governor must pass the request along to the legislature unchanged. The judiciary is a branch and not an executive branch agency, the argument goes, and should have its request treated accordingly. Several states have the practice (see list here) and a new bill in Montana would put that state’s judiciary on like footing.
His linked chart showing how each state handles preparation and submission of the judicial branch budget, is certainly worth a look.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 2, 2015 02:23 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts