Chief Justice Roy Moore warns more employees could lose jobs unless courts receive more funding
March 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM
Currently, the judicial system is expected to get approximately $103.4 million based on a general fund budget proposal passed by the Alabama Senate last week. The budget proposal has been sent to the House.
“We are not asking for anything extra next year,” said Administrative Director of Courts Rich Hobson, who attended the rotary lunch with Moore. “Just enough to keep the doors open.”
Moore said the 300 would join 498 court jobs lost since 2001.
“This is not a new problem, but it has just gotten worse,” Moore said.Moore said the state judiciary was underfunded during his first term as chief justice in 2001 but was in worse condition now, adding courts were operating with approximately $38 million less 12 years later.
More argued the state should consider more equitable cuts among the branches of government, saying the judiciary had taken the most severe cuts so far.
Moore said he was opposed to further increases to court fees or taxes to offset the losses, adding money in the budget should be reprioritized.
“We have got to take some priority to some things that they are giving money to,” Moore said.
As an example of the problems facing courts statewide, Moore read letters from circuit court clerks in Montgomery, Shelby and Jefferson counties who said their offices were undermanned and their remaining staff overworked.
“I could go on,” Moore said. “We have got tons of these from our different circuit clerks.”
Moore noted clerks across the state help collect revenue for the state and local governments. He said further cuts to staff could affect collections.
The judiciary would continue to do what is necessary to keep courts open, Moore said.
“We will do what we have to do,” Moore said.
Fielding a question from the audience, Moore said he believed the state should enforce gambling laws statewide, whether at Indian-owned casinos or facilities such as VictoryLand.
“The solution is to enforce the law fairly across the state,” Moore said, calling it a matter of equality.
Moore acknowledged gambling has been an ongoing debate in the state and any discussion of Indian casinos must consider federal law. Moore said he supported attempts by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to enforce state laws.
“He is doing right by starting and bringing up the subject,” Moore said.
Reporter Mike Cason contributed to this report.