Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 4:44 PM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (16)
  • Print

Editorial: Don’t cut the courts in the state budget

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen argues that the court system take no further budget cuts, and The Seattle Times agrees.

Seattle Times Editorial

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
Finally the Judge needs to be accountable. It's a different story when you are on the... MORE
5 of 7 Talmadge and Freeman failed to raise and argue appropriate statutory claims... MORE
Implement Loser Pays, like the civilized world has done. MORE

advertising

CHIEF Justice Barbara Madsen of the Washington Supreme Court has said in a letter to state senators that the budget they passed “will totally cripple” the state courts, and that the cuts to the courts “cannot be implemented” and “should not move forward in any form.”

That is strong language from the chief justice, and legislators should heed it. Already the court has undertaken to tell the Legislature that it has been underspending on the state’s K-12 schools with its McCleary ruling, without saying just how much is enough. In the extreme instance, the court could make a similar ruling about the judicial system, including itself.

“I hope we don’t get to that point,” Madsen said in an interview. Legislators should hope the same.

The suggested cut is billed as 5 percent, but it is of a group of things, some of which are exempt from cuts, such as the salaries and benefits of superior court judges.

The result is that the Administrative Office of the Courts would be hit the hardest. This support function has already been cut 27 percent since 2009. Adding the proposed new cuts, plus reductions in pass-through funding, would be a cumulative cut of 42 percent, which is too much.

One of the services affected is a computer system that holds court records on thousands of cases. It is essential.

The system of justice would seize up without it. The computer is a 35-year-old mainframe that is costly, difficult to maintain and is set to be replaced. The Senate budget takes away the money to do it.

The Legislature needs to get its priorities straight. It is right that education gets most of the projected increase in state revenue.

But the budget must preserve the core functions of government, which include the system of justice.

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►