By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
As Pennsylvania's state budget talks go on, the Supreme Court is renewing its press for a budget increase in the next fiscal year.
According to the "State of the Commonwealth's Courts" report released this week, the court will be short $47.2 million of its self-identified needs in the 2011-2012 fiscal year if it does not receive more funds from Gov. Tom Corbett and the General Assembly.
By the court's calculation, 83 percent of the budget goes to personnel, including 157 statutorily mandated judgeships. The court also argues that it contributes $480 million through the collection of fines, fees and restitution, while it would cost $348.2 million to meet all of the court's budgetary requirements in the next fiscal year.
The court also argues that it has tightened its belt by saving $17 million over the last three years, including not filling vacant judge positions.
Lynn Marks, of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, on Wednesday called for the court system to be fully funded. Marks said courts and judges shouldn’t have to go hat in hand begging for dollars.
"Courts serve a critical public need and should be funded at levels sufficient to enable them to conduct the people's business without the need for closure or furloughs," Marks said.