On February 20, the Governor introduced his proposal for the 2013-2015 biennial budget. The items specific to the State Public Defender agency are a positive first step in the process. Here is a brief list of those major provisions:
1. Pay Progression for ASPDs
- The system is similar in structure to the bill that was proposed last session
- Attorneys move up to the next step on a newly-created seventeen step ladder
- Both ADAs and ASPDs received full funding, but the ADA dollar amount is higher simply due to more staff
2. General pay adjustment for state employees
- Indications are that a general wage increase is a real possibility, per the following statement from the Governor’s office:
$61.9 million [allocated] in FY13 and $46.4 million in FY14 for compensation reserves. (The Governor’s office would not confirm a state employee raise rate, but said there would be a “wage adjustment” for all state employees).
3. Additional funding for next biennium to eliminate structural deficit in Private Bar appropriation
4. Increased funding for experts in Chapter 980 proceedings
- $337,000 in additional funding
There are provisions in other agency budgets that would affect the criminal justice system and our clients. Again, a brief list:
1. Collection of DNA
- Collected on conviction in most misdemeanor cases
- Collected upon arrest for felonies and certain misdemeanors related to sexual assault crimes as well as certain juvenile adjudications
- Funded in part by increase in DNA surchargeCrime victim/witness surcharge made applicable to each count and judicial discretion to waive surcharge is removed
2. Transfer of OJA to DOJ
3. Increased funding and 73 positions to increase forensic patient capacity at Mendota
4. Expand Coordinated Service Teams
5. Expanded Comprehensive Community Services
6. Creates Office of Children’s Mental Health Services
7. Extends Foster Care age to 21 for children with an individualized education plan
We will continue to update you as the budget moves through the legislative process. It is important to remember that we are still early in that process and there are still many points at which the budget can be altered.
At this point it looks like agency briefings before the Joint Finance Committee may start in the last two weeks of March; followed by hearings around the state in April; Joint Finance votes beginning at the end of April or beginning of May; and final action by the full Legislature at the end of May or beginning of June.