The recommendation has been made to the Governor to implement electronic recording
in the courts as part of the upcoming budget cuts. The report, released Tuesday,
November 11, 2008, once again threatens the jobs of the official reporters in the
state of California.
In the Legislative Analyst Office's (LAO) analysis of the state's upcoming budget,
they have predicted a $28 billion gap and a $22 billion gap a year after that. "The
state's revenue collapse is so dramatic and the underlying economic factors are
so weak that we forecast huge budget shortfalls," says the opening summary of the
The Legislative Analyst's Office budget office has a new man in charge. His name
is Mac Taylor, replacing retiring analyst Elizabeth Hill. Mac Taylor was Hill's
top deputy for the past 18 years. Elizabeth Hill was dubbed by some Capitol watchers
as the "Budget Nun" for her straight talk when it came to state finances. So what
will Taylor be called? Given the tough budget times California is facing, one
who helped select the new legislative analyst -- Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta)
-- offered this suggestion: "Mac the Knife."
While it may jokingly be a quip provided by Senator Hollingsworth, it couldn't have
been more accurate as it relates to court reporters. On Tuesday, Mr. Taylor released
his first budget analysis since taking over his position. Unfortunately, the LAO's
office once again recommends electronic recording as a means to save millions of
dollars. Although the figures are not as sweeping as proposed last year, the report
does not detail where the savings are expected to occur or how the savings could
be achieved. It would only be speculation at this point to guess what the LAO's
office is specifically recommending.
The following are a few of the recommendations being made by the LAO's office for
additional savings to the state budget as it relates to the Judiciary and Criminal
Justice and its estimated savings:
1) Suspend conservatorship program: $17.4 mil
2) Make one-time reductions from 2008-09 ongoing: $103.5 mil
3) Partially eliminate COLA provided in 2008-09: $35.1 mil
4) Suspend State Appropriations Limit adjustment for one year: $99.9 mil
5) Implement electronic court reporting: $12.6 mil
6) Phase in competitive bidding for court security: $20.0 mil
7) Transfer surplus funds from Trial Court Improvement Fund: $61 mil
8) Transfer funds from State Court Facilities Construction Fund: $40 mil
9) Delay appointment of additional judges: $57.1 mil
10) Department of Justice-Charge forensic lab fees: $20.5 mil
11) Restitution Fund-Transfer additional funds from Restitution Fund: $30 mil
12) Control Section 24.10-Increase transfer to General Fund: $4 mil
13) Corrections-Change so-called "wobbler" crimes to misdemeanors: $261 mil
14) Corrections-Requires second and third "strikes" to be serious or violent for
an offender to get a full "Three Strikes" sentence enhancement: $50 mil
CCRA's DR Task Force is firmly in place and ready to go. In the coming days, we
will gather more information and update you as to the details of the report. In
the meantime, it's time to rally the troops again. Now is the time to give your
support. You can support this fight by joining CCRA if you are not already a member,
by encouraging your colleagues to join CCRA, by making a contribution or an additional
contribution to the Special Fund
by being an Action Team volunteer, and by being vocal about the situation to other
reporters, to attorneys, to judges, and to everyone who is impacted by the critical
work that we do. This war requires money. Please do whatever you can to help.
In February, CCRA will be conducting intensive hands-on training for anyone interested
in becoming more involved with our efforts in this regard. If you are interested
in finding out more about this training, please contact me.
Together we will fight the good fight and win once again. Thank you for your help
In the words of Bette Davis: "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride."
Sheri Turner Gray
CCRA - Advancing our profession for over 100 years!