|Donald D. Goodnow, Esq.
|Two Noble Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Fax: (603) 271-3977
TTY/TDD Relay: (800) 735-2964
FACTS ABOUT THE
Judicial Branch Budget Process: The judicial branch budget is handled differently from the budgets of many executive branch agencies. The judicial branch submits its request for funding to the legislature. In recent years, the legislature has approved all or almost all of the funds requested by the judicial branch in section I of the Budget Act, but has then reduced the appropriation in another section of the budget document. The legislature has then directed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to allocate that reduction among specified line item appropriations in the judicial branch budget. In practice, the judicial branch Administrative Council (consisting of a Supreme Court Justice, the Chief Justice of the Superior Court, the Administrative Justices of the District and Probate Courts and the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts) make recommendations to the Chief Justice who makes the final decisions concerning how to allocate the reduction among the specific line item appropriations
FY 2002 Judicial Branch Budget: The net appropriation to the judicial branch for FY 2002 is $52,828,382. This is only $148,155 more than the net appropriation for FY 2001, which represents an increase of less than one percent. Note that this is in part because the FY 2002 appropriation was reduced by the District Court security budget cut and by moving the computerization request from the Operating Budget to the Capital Budget. The Superior Court part of the appropriation increased by $263,972, or about two percent, in FY 2002.
Judicial Branch Priorities: In considering how to implement the reduction mandated by the legislature, the Administrative Council and the Chief Justice considered many line item appropriations. Their purpose was to allocate the reduction in such a way as to minimize the impact of the reductions on efforts to carry out constitutional and statutory mandates and on efforts to deliver effective constituent service at 67 court sites. Because 75% of the judicial branch budget supports salaries and benefits, those lines absorb much of the reduction. Non-judicial staff positions will be kept vacant for longer periods. It is important to keep in mind, however, that every court site depends on support staff to docket pleadings, schedule hearings and trials, and send out court orders. Without staff to perform these non-judicial functions in a timely way, the judges cannot discharge their responsibilities. For this reason, part of the mandated reduction was allocated among line item appropriations for new equipment, jury fees, facilities, continuing education, current expense and several other line items.