By Sable Harris
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The Alabama court system finds itself in finical turmoil for fiscal year 2014. Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy S. Moore turned to Governor Robert Bentley for help. In a letter written to Governor Bentley, Chief Justice Moore addresses the issues concerning the budget cuts in the judicial branch. According to Moore’s letter, cuts will leave the Alabama judicial budget at an expected $13 million deficit, not to mention the $6 million debt that will be gained once the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (President Obama’s health care plan) is implemented. This will bring the 2014 fiscal year budget to a $19 million shortage.
The Alabama judicial system had already suffered financial difficulties during the 2013 fiscal year, with a $25 million budget cut. However, the money that was cut from the budget was suppose to be re-generated, by the Judicial Administrative Fund started by “Alabama Act No. 2012-535, codified as § 12-19-310, Ala. Code of 1975.” however as of today the court has only generated $5 million dollars on average, according to Moore. If so, this will generated less than half of that what was projected for the fiscal year.
When asked about the projected shortage in the judicial budget for the 2014, Governor Bentley held that all of the branches of government are experiencing difficulties with the budget. The Governor says “Obviously we don’t have adequate funding for some of our systems but, you know that’s just the way the situation is right now.” He further went on to explain he plans to work with the legislature to gain funding.
The governor admits to the fact that the funding may not generate as much as previously planned, however he hopes that enough money is raised to fund the courts. He concludes with stating “We will continue to work with the Chief Justice, we understand the difficulties their going through, just like the difficulties that we’re going trough and every agencies.”
The Chief Justice Moore said that he may have no choice, but to take the issue to the legislature himself. The employees of the Alabama court system has been experiencing budget cuts for years. However it has now gotten to the point where the Alabama court system cannot function with its budget, according to Moore. In his letter Chief Justice Moore, calls these cuts unconstitutional according the Alabama constitution Article VI, § 149, which requires that the Alabama Judicial System of to be granted with “[a]adequate and reasonable financing.” The court system cannot and more than likely will not survive with this budget. Chief Justice Moore says “Therefore, I will vigorously take this matter to the Alabama Legislature and the people of this State in this legislative session.“