Funding Alternatives Work Group
Members present: Kirk Johns, co-chair; Roland Hjorth, co-chair; Judge Rick Bathum; Richard Carlson; David Donnan; Robert Dowdy; Joan Ferebee; Judge Deborah Fleck; William Fosbre; Judge Gordon Godfrey; Judge Bruce Hilyer; Judge Craig Matheson; Barb Miner; Andra Motyka; Jane Noland; Glenn Olson; Judge David Tracy; and Judge Rick White
Guests present: Councilman Dow Constantine
Staff present: Gil Austin, Jude Cryderman and Jeff Hall
1) Information relating to court funding.
2) Proposed Principles.
Mr. Johns presented an overview of court funding:
Washington’s 15% support for court funding is the lowest in the nation. The national average for funding of the courts is 45% state and 55% local. Mr. Johns pointed out the difficulty in determining court funding details based on the high level reports. He continued the notes made require clarification and more details.
Ms. Noland asked if the goal of the work group is to indicate what funds are need or whether the state and local costs should be changed? Mr. Johns responded that the work group’s mandate is wide providing the opportunity to look at all options.
Mr. Hjorth pointed out that there is not enough money to accomplish the work the trial courts must do. He said there is a need to provide additional funding for courts, but where that money will come from is a complicated issue. Mr. Hjorth feels it is necessary to look at all possible funding options.
Judge Godfrey presented the following history:
Salaries of superior court judges: ½ paid by state and ½ paid by county.
The Attorney General’s opinion was referenced in Seattle vs. State, 100 Wn.2d 16, 666 P.2d 351 (1983), authored by Justice Pearson and in State v. Howard, 106 Wn.2d 39, 722 P.2d 783 (1985), authored by Justice Durham.
Judge Godfrey reminded the Task Force that courts are a branch of government, not part of the criminal justice system. He continued one of the requirements of the legislature is to properly fund courts. Judge Godfrey also pointed out that the courts are not revenue producers.
Judge Godfrey advised that the workload analysis indicates a need for 241 superior court judges. Currently there are 175 sitting judges and 48 court commissioners filling 222 of the authorized 241 positions. Those 19 are unfilled by local government.
Judge Godfrey advised the members of the process for calculating fiscal notes.
Mr. Blair advised the members that all five work groups have held their initial meetings. He estimates 100 people are involved with the work groups. He reminded the members that the mission of the Task Force is to identify adequate, stable, long-term funding for the courts.
Mr. Hjorth reported the Principles Committee had met to develop a proposed set of Principles. Mr. Hjorth reviewed the proposed Principles.
Principles of Funding Alternatives
The Principles Committee confined its work to identifying principles of “funding alternatives” rather than principles of “justice” that may be within the charge of the Problem Identification Workgroup.
The Principles Committee also discussed the need to develop a common definition of trial court costs (what functions are included) and decided to refer that question to the full Funding Alternatives Workgroup for discussion and possible submission to the Problem Identification Workgroup.
The work group next discussed need for short commentary following each of the principles. That will be completed by the Principles Committee.
Judge Godfrey volunteered to research the legal authority each of the principles.
Mr. Johns indicated the format should be:
Mr. Johns also indicated the Principle Committee should provide narrative background as work progresses.
Councilman Constantine said it was necessary to establish the judiciary’s right to a fair share of the funding, as the judiciary is funding by the legislature just as any other branch of government.
Judge Bathum advised that for every case 60% is added for the Public Safety and Education Account. He spoke of the different “takers” of the Public and Safety Account (PSEA) moneys.
It was moved by Mr. Dowdy and seconded by Judge Godfrey to approve the minutes of the March 12, 2003 meeting as published. The motion carried.
Topics/Materials for Next Meeting(s)
Review draft 2 of Principles
Why states have different share of state funding and what are the state/local mixes;
Date of next meeting is April 17, 2003. The meeting will be held in Suite 1606, Two Union Square, Seattle.
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