Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of a bill which would have exempted the Judicial branch from cutting $7.8 million over the next two years received a strongly worded response from Chief Court Administrator Barbara Quinn.
In a statementsent out Monday evening Quinn said Rell’s veto, “imposes upon the Judicial Branch a disproportionate share of the statewide savings needed, while exempting many Executive Branch agencies from similar cuts.”
“As a result of this veto, we must close not fewer than three courthouses and significantly reduce the funding for legal services for the poor and services to victims of domestic violence,” Quinn said.
Unable to absorb the deep cuts even after the court closings and program eliminations, Quinn said, “we will still have a budget shortfall at the end of the fiscal year that will need to be addressed by the Executive and Legislative Branches.”
“We will continue to work at all opportunities with our colleagues in the other Branches to save money and find economies wherever possible,” Quinn said. “However, implementing a reduction of this magnitude is impossible.”
In a memo to lawmakers last week Quinn warned that if they made these cuts the branch would have to close three courthouses.
The courthouses which are now on the chopping block include the Willimantic Juvenile Court building, Bristol Superior Court, and Norwalk Juvenile Court.
The business in each of those courts will be moved from their leased court space to nearby Judicial branch owned facilities.
According to Quinn’s letter to lawmakers, cuts will also be made to new programs the legislature had intended to start this year, such as the one which allows 16 years olds to be tried as juveniles instead of adults.
Also the Judicial branch had planned to pass through funding from the “other expenses” account to other organizations that work closely with the branch in providing services.
For example, the Connecticut Bar Foundation was slated to receive $1.5 million next year through the bill Rell vetoed. About $500,000 of that $1.5 million was to provide legal services to the poor. Also the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence would have received $750,000 to fund victim service contracts including more than $600,000 in direct services to victims of domestic violence.
It’s still unclear whether the legislature’s Democratic majority will attempt to override Rell’s veto, but Rell has made her stance abundantly clear.
“We can ill afford to provide blanket exceptions to budget cuts for one branch of government while others are asked to shoulder their fair share of the burden,” Rell said in her one-page veto message Monday.