Judges, legislative budgets OK’d

Judicial and legislative budgets got disparate treatment Monday in the House Appropriations Committee.

The panel cut by $10.4 million a $179 million budget proposed to finance Louisiana’s judiciary from the Supreme Court to local jurisdictions for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Associate Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Marcus Clark said the increased funding was needed because of growing expenses associated with retirement and other employee benefits.

But Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin said legislators are struggling to balance the proposed $25 billion state budget.

“Our revenue is not back yet. We don’t know why but it’s not,” said state Rep. Fannin, R-Jonesboro. He said he would work with the judges to try to restore some of the funding in House Bill 1095.

A short time later, the Appropriations panel approved a $73 million proposed spending plan for legislative agencies, contained in House Bill 1194. It’s $4 million more than the current fiscal year which ends June 30.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said the budget has been at a standstill since 2007 “but with the increased costs of benefits” the increase is required.

Both bills advance to the House floor for debate.