By Adam Plotkin, SPD Legislative Liaison
With the budget and compensation plan through the legislature, and recently signed by the Governor, I wanted to recap the major provisions affecting the SPD in those two packages. Future articles will focus on other changes affecting the SPD’s legal practice; this is a review of those issues specific to our agency and its employees.
One of the most significant areas addressed by the budget and compensation plan is employee compensation. The compensation plan provides a 1% general wage adjustment in each year of the biennium. The budget contains the statutory structure and funding for assistant state public defender pay progression; supplemented by the compensation plan provisions that ensure it applies to attorney managers as well.
The budget also provides $6.2 million in one time funding designed to address the recurring structural deficit in the private bar reimbursement appropriation. Barring unforeseen lapses or other cuts to the agency budget, this funding should enable private bar attorneys to be paid for work completed through the end of the biennium.
The SPD also received an additional $675,000 in expert funding as a result of increasing costs in Chapter 980 sexually violent persons cases. Between increasing costs for experts in this case type as well as more limited access to the physical evidence, these additional funds will help to ensure that the SPD can utilize qualified experts in these civil commitment proceedings.
While there are of course provisions with which we have fundamental differences of opinion, such as the return of a bail bonds system, from the perspective of the agency, this budget and compensation plan contain several items which will have a positive impact for the SPD.