CSAC Bulletin Article

Trial Court Funding Formula Considered

January 11, 2018

The Judicial Council will consider recommendations tomorrow on how it divides annual state funding for the judicial branch among each of the state’s 58 trial courts based on the workload at each court. The council’s Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee proposed the recommendations to make its Workload-Based Allocation and Funding Methodology (WAFM) more stable and predictable, and lessen any negative impacts on courts who experience large cuts to their budgets in lean funding years.

Among the proposals, the committee recommends eliminating the historical funding base that implemented WAFM gradually over the previous five fiscal years, and instead establish base allocations each year based on a court’s funding level the prior year. The committee also proposes to continue reporting workload every fiscal year based on a three-year average of filings data to respond to local changes in court workload.

Other items on the council meeting agenda include:
Reporting Case Processing Statistics: The council will consider a recommendation to revise statistical reporting definitions for the Judicial Branch Statistical Information System (JBSIS). These statistics help the council calculate the workload-based funding need for each court.

Ability-to-Pay Determinations: The council will consider a proposal for two new forms court users would complete to request a determination of their ability-to-pay court fines in traffic and other infraction cases.

Courthouse Closures or Reduced Hours: The council will receive a report on which trial courts have closed courtrooms or clerks’ offices or reduced clerks’ office hours because of budget challenges. Since the previous report, three superior courts—Alameda, Modoc, Stanislaus, and Sierra Counties—have issued new notices of closures or reductions.

The meeting agenda and council reports are online, and a link to the live videocast of the meeting will be on the California Courts website on the day of the meeting.

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