Governor’s 2016 Budget Mentions Electronic Recording In Family Law
A suggested proposal from a commission to replace court reporters with electronic recording raises concerns about Governor’s proposed budget.
Governor Brown released his proposed budget for 2016 today and what will be of most concern to court reporters is that Governor Brown is proposing an “innovation” of using digital recording machines in place of court reporters in Family Law courts.
We are still in the early stages of the budgetary process, but rest assured your COCRA team will be monitoring the budget process as it progresses.
The following is an early analysis from Michele Castro, Director of Government Relations at SEIU California. SEIU represents the majority of court employees in California including official court reporters.
Earlier today the Governor released his proposed 2016 budget. It’s not as good as previous years in terms of reinvesting in the courts and it does have a few issues that could be particularly concerning to SEIU members.
In his last two budgets, Governor included a 5% increase each year for the courts. This year, he took a different direction. This year, the Governor cites the need to improve the trial courts by doing business differently. He makes reference to the Commission on the Future of the California Court System to recommend efficiencies and innovations.
From early information coming out of the Commission, we know that some of these proposals will not be good for workers, such as moving HR functions from courts and to the AOC and changing court employee status. The upshot is that any of these proposals would have to go through the legislative process where SEIU members have a strong chance of beating back bad ideas coming out the AOC.
Additionally, the Governor proposes to reform the current trial court budget reserve policy, which was recently instituted because courts were hoarding money while laying-off workers. Depending how this reform would occur it could be good for us or it could be bad. We’ll need to watch the details of the proposal closely.
The Governor proposes to increase funding to the trial courts by $95.8 million as follows:
- $20 million to the courts for discretionary spending.
- $15.6 million for the employer share of employee pensions and health benefit increases. The Governor also stated that he is committed to continue to cover the costs of employee pensions and health benefits in the future.
- $8.8 million to cover the loss of funds due to lower fee and fine revenues. Several fees and fines that are currently funding the courts are set to expire; however, the Governor is committed to extending those revenue measures.
- $21.4 million to cover increased Prop 47 workload demands in the trial courts.
- $7 million for language access for non-english speakers.
- $30 million in one-time funds in competitive grants to courts that implement innovations.
The Governor lists possible innovations such as implementing the use of kiosks rather than clerks in traffic proceedings and using electronic recording devices in family law proceedings rather than court reporters.
The Governor does not necessarily say this is what courts should do, only lists them as ideas that very likely came from the AOC.
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