Last year, over $300 million was taken from that fund. The Governor is proposing to take $240 million this year.
The money in the fund comes from special fees, assessments, and penalties imposed on court users. Currently, the money, if left in the court construction fund, is used to acquire land and hire design professionals. Eventually, the money will be used to finance bonds for the $5 billion construction program to make critical improvements to court facilities (replacement and improvement).
If the Legislature agrees with the Governor’s proposed taking of the $240 million, it will delay the court facility construction program by at least one year.
The Governor’s office explained their proposal as follows:
Decrease $240 million General Fund on a one-time basis by redirecting an equal amount from court construction funds to support trial court operations. This pause in construction will delay design activities for up to 38 court projects. It will coincide with a full review of the court construction program and court construction standards. Up to six projects that are near design completion are proposed to proceed to construction in 2012-13 once the Judicial Council is able to verify the cost and scope of these six projects. These projects will be funded with lease revenue bonds. Ongoing, $50 million will be redirected from court construction funds to support trial court operations.
This is the Governor’s proposed budget. The Legislature has not yet voted on it, but will work with the Governor and craft and vote on a budget in June. The AIACC will continue to work with our coalition partners in Just Build California to argue the importance of allowing the court construction program to continue without further interruption.