Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jul. 23, 2015
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Governor signs FY2016 budget

The Trial Court's approximately $628 million allocation "preserves basic court operations," but could restrict other programs, court officials said, after Gov. Charlie Baker signed the state's final fiscal year 2016 budget last Friday.

The Trial Court's budget is approximately $4 million less than the budget passed earlier by the House and Senate. Baker also vetoed the outside section that would have provided a pay raise for some private bar advocates. While the Massachusetts Bar Association is disappointed in these reductions, there is still a possibility that these legislative proposals could be revived when the Legislature takes up overrides, or as part of a larger reform in the future.

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence issued a joint statement on the Trial Court's budget and Baker's veto of some of the funding allocated by the Legislature:

"We in the judiciary are grateful for the care taken by the Baker Administration and the Legislature in making the difficult decisions necessary to craft an FY16 Budget that is balanced and meets the critical funding needs of state government. The Legislature approved a $631 million budget for the Trial Court, which would allow the judiciary to maintain its basic operations and continue critical initiatives. The Administration's budget proposal preserves basic court operations, but the $4.1 million reduction in court funding would imperil important initiatives such as our ability to implement the Legislature's domestic violence statute, including the development of a risk/assessment tool that will help identify the dangerousness of domestic violence defendants; our plans to expand drug courts to combat opioid abuse; our opening of new Court Service Centers that assist the growing number of unrepresented civil litigants; and our efforts to continue court modernization. We look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature and the Baker Administration to ensure that the Trial Court receives the funds needed to ensure a high quality of justice for the people of this Commonwealth."

In a positive step forward, the final FY2016 budget includes $17 million in funding for civil legal aid - an approximately $2 million increase over last year's levels.

©2015 Massachusetts Bar Association