Judiciary

Courts Seek $25 Mil. Over and Above Corbett's Budget

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Justice Ronald Castille
Justice Ronald Castille

Castille added that the judiciary's budget is 0.5 percent of the entire state budget and that the courts already "run lean," having taken several cost-cutting steps in recent years.

The biggest savings, Castille said, have been acheived through keeping common pleas and MDJ seats vacant.

According to a prepared statement Supreme Court Justice Thomas G. Saylor delivered on behalf of the courts to the Senate appropriations committee on Feb. 10, the judiciary has saved about $14.1 million by leaving those seats vacant and an additional $4.5 million by eliminating several magisterial district offices across the state.

"Overall, in the past six years, the judiciary has saved about $45.8 million through various means," Saylor told the Senate committee.

But Castille said the courts have made all the cuts they can.

Add to that the rising cost of pension contributions and the judiciary is in a "tough spot," Castille said.

Castille responded to criticism that the judiciary could save additional money by moving more judicial employees out of leased space throughout the state and into the 425,000-square-foot judicial center that opened in Harrisburg in May 2009 by calling the potential savings "negligible."

"If they make that criticism, they should try and add it up," Castille said.

Castille explained that the only judicial offices that could potentially be centralized in Harrisburg are in the appellate courts, a small fraction of the judiciary as a whole.

"That only leaves the 38 positions on the appellate courts, so you probably wouldn't save very much," Castille said, noting that the additional travel expenses the courts would incur by moving appellate judges' chambers to Harrisburg would likely cancel out any potential savings.

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