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The Third Branch

Double cut to state courts' budget remains, in part

By Deborah Brescoll, Budget and Policy Officer

Gov. Scott Walker signed 2013 Wisconsin Act 20, the new state budget, into law on June 30. Of primary concern to the court system was the continuation into the 2013-15 biennium of a $17 million lapse requirement, including $10.3 million that resulted from increased state employee contributions to retirement and health insurance. Since the budget bill removed these fringe benefit savings from court budgets, the Supreme Court requested that $10.3 million of the lapse requirement be deleted. The Governor denied the request, but after months of consistent communications efforts by the Director of State Courts Office, justices, judges, clerks of court and other court staff, the Joint Finance Committee reduced the $17 million court system lapse by $5.15 million, half the amount requested. The Director's Office is examining options for meeting the now-$11.8 million lapse, and will keep judges, court system partners and court staff informed about how the lapse will be managed.

Other provisions affecting the courts in Act 20 include:

Two provisions of particular interest to the court system were not included in the budget act:

A detailed summary of Act 20 was distributed to justices and judges, clerks of court and court staff on July 2, the effective date of the new budget. The bulletin is available to court system employees on Courtnet.

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