Judicial Budget Request 2016

Judicial Budget 2016 header

The judiciary's core mission . . .

. . . is to deliver fair, timely and accessible justice for all. As part of that mission, Pennsylvania’s courts strive to serve the public efficiently, with innovation and appropriate transparency, and an eye on costs.

Adequate funding allows the mission to be met.

During today’s hearing we welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about the judiciary’s budget and programs, including:

  • Veterans courts, which divert nonviolent offenders from jail if they comply with treatment and program requirements
  • The Office of Children and Families in the Courts which, through collaboration with the Department of Human Services and related agencies, has made a dramatic life difference for thousands of children
  • PAeDocket, PAePay (online payment of fines and costs) and other widely embraced, innovative IT initiatives including the award-winning website, and any other topics of interest

We respect the difficult job you have to do and, on behalf of the Supreme Court, look forward to talking with you about the judiciary’s operations.

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Judicial collections exceed the budget request

The judiciary works hard to maximize the collections of fines, costs and restitution. Over the last nine years, $4.1 BILLION has been collected. In 2015, more than $464 million was collected, which was $2 million more than last year and is 25 percent more than the judiciary’s budget request this year. For the most part, these dollars do not flow back to the judiciary. They are distributed primarily to state and local governments, including airports and parking authorities, and to programs that support victims.

Thanks to AOPC/IT efforts, the judiciary has made it easier to make fine, fee and cost payments and, the judiciary believes, that ease has led to increased collections. (See PAePay)

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Increased budget request remains primarily tied to rising pension and health care costs

Thanks to the budget recently passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, in the current fiscal year the judiciary has been able to meet its increased costs which are driven by pension requirements and health care costs.

The increase in the 2016-17 budget request can be primarily attributed to the same two factors. Less than 2 percent of the requested increase is due to operating costs. There is one new line item for the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts.

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A commitment to spending wisely and managing prudently has resulted in a savings of $73 million over the past eight years

Over the past eight years, staff and jurists have consistently sought ways to save. From renegotiated leases to AOPC staff reorganization, the efforts have paid off, saving $73 million cumulatively in tax dollars.

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86 percent of the judicial budget is used to pay for its personnel

Pennsylvania has 1,027 constitutionally-mandated jurists including those at the magisterial district, Common Pleas, Superior, Commonwealth and Supreme courts. There are 194 district court administrators and deputy court administrators. Finally, 371 AOPC staff provide services for jurists, staff and the people of Pennsylvania including technology support, communications, human resources, budgeting, accounting, legal, intergovernmental relations, court programs, research and education. 

There was a 20% increase last year in the amount of money collected online through PAePay and 21% more transactions processed over last year

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AOPC/IT - a nationwide leader in court technology

  • 73 million court docket sheets were accessed for free on the website in the past year, up 12 percent over the previous year
  • 20,000 users are accessing docket sheets from their cellphones – both Apple and Android – thanks to PAeDocket, a new free “app” developed by AOPC/IT 
  • 38,000 law enforcement and public safety officials from more than 20 different agencies depended on AOPC/IT’s systems to perform their daily duties in 2015
  • Law enforcement agencies eFile traffic citations translating to cost and time savings, allowing officers to more quickly resume their duties
  • Strong collaborative partnerships have been forged with clerks of courts and magisterial district judges, in developing and implementing statewide case and financial management systems

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86 percent of the judicial budget is used to pay for its personnel

Pennsylvania has 1,027 constitutionally-mandated jurists including those at the magisterial district, Common Pleas, Superior, Commonwealth and Supreme courts. There are 194 district court administrators and deputy court administrators. Finally, 371 AOPC staff provide services for jurists, staff and the people of Pennsylvania including technology support, communications, human resources, budgeting, accounting, legal, intergovernmental relations, court programs, research and education. 

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Pennsylvania’s courts are committed to projects that improve lives, save tax dollars and serve justice

Despite the fact that only 4 percent of the judiciary’s budget goes to operations, the courts have been able to implement several programs that improve people’s lives and save money.

The Office of Children and Families in the Courts saves millions annually by keeping kids with family members which, in turn, eliminates time otherwise spent in foster care, reduces potential emotional trauma and saves taxpayer dollars.

Problem solving courts, including veterans and drug courts, divert nonviolent offenders from jail if they comply with treatment and program requirements.

Access to the state court system is important for everyone, including Limited English Proficiency (LEP) persons. Mapping LEP populations at the state and county level helps identify the statewide need and guides the process of providing improved access to court programs and services.