For what seems like a long time, the California courts have struggled with budget problems. Courthouses were closed. The State Administrative office was reduced. And one would think that, with a reasonably healthy California state economy, the worst of those times has passed…but this is not so for the court in San Francisco:
The San Francisco Superior Court will furlough staff, cut clerk’s office hours and ask judges to donate one day of pay each month to help close a $5.3 million budget deficit.
Court workers will be furloughed one Friday each month, on a rotating schedule by department, starting Aug. 4 through June 2018. All clerks’ offices will close to the public at 1 p.m. on Fridays as of Sept. 1. Courtrooms will still remain operating on those days, although officials will adjust calendars to accommodate staff shortages.
“We are committed to keeping our courtrooms open and continuing to prioritize access to justice despite the 9 percent cut in our state funding allocation for the fiscal year that began” July 1, Presiding Judge Teri Jackson said in a prepared statement. “This contribution is a solution that will help us to avoid staff layoffs.”
Jackson has asked the court’s 52 judges to “consider a voluntary donation” of one day’s pay each month—about $509—to help close the funding gap.
The San Francisco Superior Court took the biggest hit of any county—from $56.9 million to $51.7 million, or about 9 percent—under the judiciary’s annual budget allocation system, known as the workload allocation funding methodology. Adopted in 2013, the formula attempts to equalize funding among courts throughout the state. It moves away from a system that doled out money based on what a court used to get under the old county-budgeting model and gives more funding to courts with higher caseloads. But it has also penalized courts that were historically well funded under county control.
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