DAVID A. BROCK
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
April 16, 2003
Hon. Gene Chandler, Speaker
N.H. House of Representatives
State House, Room 308
Concord, NH 03301
Hon. Peter H. Burling
House Minority Leader
State House, Room 306
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Speaker Chandler and House Minority Leader Burling:
I understand that the House will vote tomorrow on a new budget proposal which further reduces the appropriation to the Judicial Branch by $1.7 million over the next biennium. That cut, which would be in addition to $2.5 million in reductions already proposed by the House Finance Committee, would be extremely damaging to the judicial system and the citizens of New Hampshire. That further reduction in funding would only perpetuate case backlogs and delays in court orders that affect the lives of the men, women, and children of New Hampshire.
Earlier this year, in making our budget presentation to the House Finance Committee, we drastically reduced our original budget request. The goal of our reduced request, a "critical needs" budget, was to provide the citizens basic access to New Hampshire courts. During the current biennium, we have not been able to meet this goal since we have had to leave many existing Judicial Branch positions vacant to stay within the budget passed two years ago. The vacancy level, which recently has been approximately eight percent of our clerical staff, has led to backlogs in the trial courts and delays in the receipt by New Hampshire's citizens of court orders. The "critical needs" budget would have allowed us to fill those essential positions.
Both budget proposals which came out of the House Finance Committee reduce our "critical needs" budget by $2.5 million over the biennium. Even with that cut we would have been able to fill only some of those essential positions and thus improve the level of service to our citizens. An additional $1.7 million reduction from the already reduced level recommended by the House Finance Committee would mean that the strain on the judicial system in providing needed services to our citizens would continue.
We are very aware of the fiscal constraints facing the State. I urge everyone in the House to consider, however, that reductions in the judicial budget directly impact the lives of the citizens we all serve. Cutbacks mean continued delays in the administration of justice and impinge on our ability to provide the services that the Constitution demands of us. If the House is inclined to vote favorably on the new budget proposal, I respectfully request it to restore the funding of the Judicial Branch to at least the level recommended by the House Finance Committee.
David A. Brock
cc. Hon. Neal M. Kurk, Chairman, House Finance Committee
Hon. Joseph E. Stone, Chairman, Division I
Hon. Thomas R. Eaton, President, NH Senate
Hon. Richard Green, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Hon. Sylvia B. Larsen, Senate Democratic Leader