Pennsylvania judiciary to press for more funding
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Pennsylvania court officials say they hope to secure more state funding than Gov. Tom Corbett is offering.
In a proposed budget issued last week, the governor set the judicial system's funding at $308.2 million during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Mr. Corbett's proposal is $36.4 million less than the $344.6 million the judiciary requested. The governor's proposal is just a starting point, however, and court officials hope they can appeal to the state Legislature for more.
Jay Pagni, director of communications for the governor's budget office, said most state agencies were flat-funded.
"The judiciary was not treated any differently than any other branches of state government or the row offices," he said. "The General Assembly and the governor's office were level-funded as were many of our departmental agencies. ... We'll see where we get to at the end."
Erik Arneson, communications and policy director for state Senate Majority Leader Dominic F. Pileggi, R-Chester, said in an email that Mr. Corbett proposal "treats the judiciary the same as it does the Legislature, the attorney general and the auditor general."
Samuel Milkes -- executive director of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, a consortium of 15 independent civil legal assistance programs -- said, "We were pleased that the governor did continue our funding level."
Mr. Corbett -- who has proposed an overall budget of $28.4 billion, up from $27.8 billion in the current fiscal year -- also suggests that money saved by reducing the state prison population will be reinvested into the criminal justice system.
The Corbett administration projects that the Department of Corrections will have 1,200 fewer inmates in five years' time and that $139 million will be saved. Some of that savings will be "reinvested in victim services, local policing, county-based offender treatment, and county and state probation services to better serve Pennsylvania," according to the budget-in-brief.
As the state prison population has dropped, there was an increase of almost 1,000 parolees in the first part of this fiscal year, according to budget documents. Mr. Corbett's proposed budget provides for increasing the number of parole agents working for the Board of Probation and Parole by 27 positions, to the tune of $2.1 million.
First Published February 11, 2013 12:00 am