When the legislature gaveled into session
in January 2014, legislative leaders were hopeful to adjourn on time, if not
early. In the second year of the
biennium, legislator per diem expense money runs out on day 100 of the session,
or on April 22. While the leaders' goal
remains to adjourn by April 18, do not be surprised if adjournment is a week
Both the House and Senate have cleared
their calendars of most policy bills.
Approximately 90 policy bills already have been sent to the Governor for
signing. So, most of the next two weeks
will focus primarily on the ten appropriation bills that make up the state
budget, along with tax bills. On a
positive note, the legislature completed work on the judicial branch budget
bill this week, making the judicial branch
budget bill the first one to be completed and ready for the governor's
House File 2449 appropriates $171,486,612
for operations and $3,100,000 for jury and witness fees, for a total judicial
branch budget of $174,586,612. This
represents a $5,899,865, or 3.6%, increase in the operating budget. It also represents the second consecutive
year the judicial branch has seen a significant increase in its operating
budget. Approximately $4.3 million of
the increase will allow the judicial branch to maintain its current level of
service by covering the 2015 fiscal year (FY 15) cost of salary annualization for judges, magistrates, and non-judicial
officer personnel, as well as FY 15 salary adjustment requirements for both
contract and non-contract covered personnel, along with projected increases in
health insurance premiums.
This will leave approximately $1.6 million
of additional funding to apply against the $4.3 million in additional services
requested in the FY 15 budget proposal.
The supreme court will set priorities for use of the additional $1.6
million after the bill is signed and the court has had the opportunity to
review current judicial branch needs.