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. Other 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 Operating Budget requests $1.81 billion, excluding fringe benefits, for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. This represents a cash increase of $44.2 million, or 2.5%. The associated appropriation request is $1.82 billion, which represents a $63 million, or 3.6%, increase. The slightly higher appropriation increase is because of technical reasons that relate to the use of reappropriation authority to fund the first two years of the judicial pay raise.
This slight increase is requested after five years of essentially flat budgets during which the Judiciary absorbed more than $300 million in increased costs and lost more than 1,900 employees. The Judiciary met these challenges by reorganizing, reducing programs and implementing operational efficiencies. The Judiciary can, however, no longer continue to absorb cost increases if it is to have the resources needed to fulfill its constitutional duty to the people of New York.
The 2014-2015 Budget request will allow the Judiciary to fund mandatory increases including $17 million to support implementation of the final phase of the statutorily required criminal indigent defense caseload standards and $17.5 million for mandatory increments for nonjudicial employees. In addition to providing funding for these mandatory increases, the proposed budget would allow the courts to maintain their current staffing levels and fill a limited number of positions that are critical to court operations. Funds would also be used to ensure that courtrooms can remain open to the public until 5 pm each day. An additional $15 million is also requested for civil legal services in furtherance of Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's priority to ensure that litigants who appear in court with regard to the essentials of life are represented.
The 2014-2015 Judiciary Budget also addresses the critical need for additional Family Court judges by requesting a $5 million supplemental appropriation for 20 new Family Court Judgeships to be established, effective January 1, 2015, with the support of the Legislature.
The Judiciary's All Funds budget request for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, excluding fringe benefits, totals $2.04 billion, an appropriation increase of $63.8 million or 3.2% over the 2013-2014 All Funds budget. In addition to the requested increase in the General Fund, increases are requested in the County Clerks' Operations Offset Fund, the Judiciary Data Processing Offset Fund, and the Attorney Licensing Fund. As with the General Fund, these increases are requested to allow the Judiciary to maintain current staffing levels and fill a limited number of positions that are critical to court operations.