The Kentucky judicial branch is bleeding to death, according to The Lexington-Herald Leader:
Kentucky courts will ax 113 positions during the coming months to help make up an expected $6.8 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The job reduction is the largest layoff in the court’s history and follows a smaller round of cutbacks last year. More belt tightening is likely next year, when a $10.6 million shortfall is expected.
Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. called the numbers “staggering” and “sobering.”
“If we are to balance our budget, we must make widespread reductions to court operations,” Minton said in a news release. “These reductions will affect all four levels of the court system.”
A wide range of services and positions will be axed, including (but not limited to) the abolition of juvenile/family drug courts, cutting overtime for deputy clerks and the elimination of 18 staff positions from family court programs.
The best part? Frankfort saw this coming and hasn’t done anything to prevent it.
Court officials had warned legislators as early as last summer that layoffs in the judicial branch were inevitable without additional money. But lawmakers — who have yet to pass an executive branch budget — opted to cut the court system by about 2 percent from the previous year. Its overall budget for fiscal year 2011 was $290 million, far less than the $315 million the courts had requested.
The shortfall for the two pools of money that the judicial branch uses for its operations is more than $33 million for the upcoming fiscal year. However, the courts were able to use $26 million in one-time money to erase much of that shortfall.
The judicial branch is the only branch of Kentucky government that has been forced to use layoffs to balance its budget. In 2009, the courts eliminated 47 positions, mainly at its central offices in Frankfort. However, about 26 people were rehired into other positions in the judicial branch.
So if you decide to climb atop the Porta-Johns at the infield for a little impromptu derby of your own, just remember that when you go to court for endangering innocent bystanders/public indecency, there’ll be fewer personnel around to make your stay in Jefferson County jail that much more pleasant.