Agency Web Site: http://www.nycourts.gov/admin/financialops/Budgets.shtml
The Judiciary is one of the three branches of New York State government. The mission of the Judiciary is to provide a forum for the fair and prompt resolution of civil and family disputes, criminal charges, disputes between citizens and the state, and challenges to government action. Others matters within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary are administration of decedents’ estates, presiding over adoptions and proceedings to protect children and incapacitated persons, and regulation of the admission of lawyers to the Bar and their conduct and discipline. Each year more than four million new cases are filed in the New York State Courts.
The Judiciary’s General Fund budget request for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, including fringe benefits, totals $2.3 billion. The proposed request absorbs $70 million in increased costs, including funding for the first judicial salary increase in more than 13 years, and funding for contractually-required increments for eligible represented employees. Despite these increased costs, the request reflects a General Fund decrease of $3.9 million over the 2011-12 budget. This decrease is a result of an ongoing reassessment of court operations and a rigorous cost-cutting program, including the continued reduction of the non-judicial workforce. Over the past two fiscal years, as a result of participation in the Early Retirement Incentive Program, targeted layoffs, a hiring freeze, and other measures, the non-judicial workforce of the court system has been reduced by more than 1,300 positions, a reduction of more than eight percent.
The Judiciary has also undertaken an ongoing reassessment of its operations, to find better and smarter ways of doing business. Toward that end, the Judiciary has, among other measures, modified court operations to reduce overtime costs, streamlined administrative functions, and largely eliminated in-person training for Judges and court personnel in favor of web-based training.
The proposed Judiciary budget would permit the courts to modify at least some of the measures that had the most immediate and direct negative impact on court users, including backlogs and delays. For example, this budget will permit some relaxation of the early court closing times that were implemented this year. While the total size of the court system’s non-judicial workforce will decrease further, the budget will allow the courts to fill a few critical operational positions that maximize the efficiency of the courts. The proposed budget also provides $25 million for the Civil Legal Services Program to address a troubling issue that goes to the heart of the courts’ mission – providing equal justice to the millions of litigants who appear each year without counsel in eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, consumer debt, and other cases involving the essentials of life.
The Judiciary’s All Funds budget request for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, including fringe benefits, totals $2.5 billion, an increase of $3.6 million over the 2011-12 All Funds budget. The increase is due to a $5.8 million increase in Local Assistance funding for the Court Facilities Incentive Aid Program, partially offset by a $2.2 million decrease in State Operations funding.
The Judiciary’s proposed budget reflects the court system’s continuing commitment to work with the other branches of government in addressing the State’s fiscal crisis, while ensuring that the courts are also able to provide timely and fair justice to all New Yorkers.