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Delaware Docket Newsletter

THE DELAWARE JUDICIAL BRANCH RESPONDS
TO FY 2010 BUDGET AND EMPLOYEE PAY CUTS

Chief Justice Steele: “I commend the members of the Delaware Judiciary, for their 'public spirit,' in voluntarily making individual choices to respond to the FY 2010 pay cuts, and demonstrating our collective commitment to helping Delaware through this difficult fiscal crisis, as well as standing ‘side by side’ with those who work with us on a daily basis.”

     Fiscal Year 2010 is anticipated to be another difficult fiscal year for the State and the Delaware courts, coming on the “heels” of 2009’s budget challenges. The FY 2010 State budget, which went into effect on July 1, 2009, implemented significant and painful fiscal reductions, including a 2.5% pay cut for Judicial Branch employees. Although the Delaware State Constitution precludes the reduction of the salaries of judges, commissioners and justices of peace while in office through a budget pay cut, members of the Delaware Judiciary demonstrated their complete commitment to “sharing in the sacrifice.” In support of State employees, particularly those employees who work closely with them every day, 100% of the judges, commissioners, and justices of the peace volunteered to take a similar 2.5% reduction in pay in fiscal year 2010, either through a voluntary reduction in their pay or contributions to charitable organizations. Many of the charitable contributions made by judges and others in response to the pay cut focus on organizations that provide services to Delawareans accessing the courts, such as Community Legal Aid Society, Inc., whose State funding has been significantly reduced in FY 2010.

FY 2010 FUNDING*

LAW ENFORCEMENT
Wilmington Police - $46.1 million
New Castle County Police - $49.2 million
State Police - $112.9 million
Attorney General - $27.5million
Public Defender - $14.6 million
TOTAL - $250.3million

JUDICIAL BRANCH - $87.1 million

CORRECTIONS
DOC - $249.5 million
YOUTH REHABILITATIVE
SERVICES - $41.4 million
TOTAL - $290.9 million

*General Fund budgets


     The Judicial Branch worked closely with the other branches of government to help address the fiscal challenges which the State faced beginning in February 2008 and throughout FY 2009. As Chief Justice Steele stated: “Despite the fact that the Judicial Branch’s budget represents only 2.7% of the overall State budget, we have gone 'above and beyond' to do our part – we were the first in State government to implement a hiring freeze for non-essential personnel; we have also been making painful cuts to our budgets, and working with the other branches of government on new enhancements to State revenues, bringing in an additional $2.2 million in FY 2009, and a projected $2.9 million in FY 2010. Our approach has made millions of additional dollars available to help balance the State budget. Through the hiring freeze alone, in FY 2009, the Judicial Branch saved more than $2 million in personnel funding. The cuts we have made have brought the impact on the core public services we provide to the 'breaking point.' Although the courts’ State (General Fund) funding represents roughly one-third of that of the 'ends' of the criminal justice system (corrections and law enforcement), I am very concerned that, if resources continue to diminish, delays in adjudicating cases may become so serious that courts may be seen as the immovable 'bottleneck' in the justice system.”

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