Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012
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House wraps up fiscal year 2013 budget debate

The House of Representatives wrapped up debate on its $32.4 billion FY13 budget plan late last night. The House added $110 million back into the budget during the three-day debate, including $6 million for the Trial Court and an additional $1 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation -- bringing MLAC's funding to $12 million.

The House budget funds the Trial Court at $560 million for 2013, $8 million below Gov. Deval Patrick's recommendation. Additional funding is essential to address critical court system operating needs. The Massachusetts Bar Association will continue to advocate for an adequately funded justice system throughout the budget process. As you know, the court system is serving approximately 42,000 people, who enter the courthouses each day, with more than 1,300 fewer court personnel since July 2007. Court backlogs are increasing; many clerks and registers have had to reduce public hours of operation, except for emergencies; and, there is an insufficient number of court officers, which also increases security risks and causes disruptions and delays.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee will release its budget proposal in May and the measure will then be debated by the full Senate. Each branch will then appoint three members to a joint conference committee to reconcile both budgets. The conference committee will produce one final conference budget to be sent to both branches for an up-or-down vote, without further debate. The enacted budget will then be sent to Patrick for his review and approval. Patrick may approve the budget, in part, by making a number of vetoes to the document. Fiscal year 2013 begins on July 1, 2012.

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