Maraman: Budget cuts jeopardize court operations

The judiciary is facing a $4.6 million funding shortfall, or 13 percent of the fiscal year 2018 appropriation, as a result budget cuts that “have gone from hampering, to now threatening, core court operations,” Chief Justice Katherine Maraman said Tuesday.

“The Judicial branch has been asked to bear 15 percent of total FY 2018 government-wide reductions, yet we only represent 5 percent of the general fund operations,” Maraman said in her state of the judiciary address delivered during the celebration of Law Week.

The judicial branch on Tuesday transmitted its 2019 budget request in the amount of $36.7 million, which represents 5percent of total estimated general fund appropriations.

“This submission follows two consecutive years of a status quo budget and the two preceding years with slight increases that were barely in line with the increasing costs of delivering important government services,” Maraman said.

She said judicial branch has presented a budget that funds operations, with focus on filling critical vacancies, implementing legislatively-mandated reclassification of all of our personnel, starting the electronic monitoring program, and giving adequate financial resources to our under-funded indigent defense services.

“Our Judicial Council, as always, weighed some important considerations when approving our budget submission. Our management team and division heads diligently combed through their respective budgets, cutting in areas they believed would not compromise service to court patrons,” Maraman said.

She said the Judicial Council has “encouraged management to begin weighing a number of deeper cost-reduction options that can be deployed in the event GovGuam revenues plummet and further compromise cash-flow into our branch.”