Hartford – State Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-34) continued to vote ‘No’ on all judicial nominations regardless of their qualifications, due to severe underfunding and staffing problems in the Judiciary branch.
In February Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick Carrol shared concerns that the state’s judiciary would not be able to adequately function. In his testimony to the Appropriations Committee, Judge Carrol stated “The cumulative consequences of the budget cuts and staff losses are such that I am no longer confident in our ability to adequately staff 44 courthouses throughout the state and satisfactorily perform all of the statutory tasks we have been given. While current staff vacancies challenge our ability to provide meaningful access to justice, further reductions to the Branch’s budget, as well as failure to fully fund SEBAC contractual obligations, will require us to rethink how and where we conduct court business in Connecticut.”
“Without a budgetary plan in place, it seems completely inappropriate to keep filling judicial appointments when we don’t have the support staff so desperately needed to run our courts effectively,” said Rep. Ziobron. “I am very concerned about safety at our courthouses and have heard numerous stories of court proceedings being delayed or postponed due to the lack of support staff. In addition, every new judge we appoint adds to our unfunded pension system, especially if they already have state service that counts toward their generous pension calculations. The average pension for a judge, after ten and half years of service in Connecticut is $113,000.”
In even numbered years the legislature convenes in a ‘short’ session form February to May to make adjustments to the biennial budget. Bi-partisan negotiations for are ongoing; however the Republican caucus continues to develop alternatives for both the 2019 budget adjustment and a plan to deal with the current 2018 deficit. A commitment to vote on a budget in the Appropriations Committee was made by both Democrat and Republican leaders in the House and Senate, by April 20th.
Judge Carrol’s testimony can be accessed on the Appropriations Committee page HERE.