Although the Joint Finance Committee has deleted Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to eliminate the Judicial Council from the budget bill, its members are still concerned about how the council will be financed.
“The good news is we’re not eliminated,” April Southwick said at the council’s Friday meeting. “The bad news is we’re still a little fuzzy on the funding.”
The motion approved by a 15-1 vote Thursday reinstates the statutes that require the council’s existence but changes the council’s funding so it will be completely financed by the Director of State Courts.
“We will have to hope that the court is agreeable to this,” said Southwick, the council’s staff attorney.
The State Courts, she said, currently pays for 40 percent of the council’s budget. The Judicial Council is a 21-member body that makes recommendations relating to court practices, procedures and administration of state courts.
Southwick said she is not sure the court has had a discussion or reached a position about the Joint Finance Committee’s change to the council’s financing.
Attorney and State Bar member William Gleisner said he was interested in finding out whether the council could be funded by private sources and by the State Bar.
But Greg Weber, State Attorney General Brad Schimel’s representative on the council, said there likely would be ethical concerns about private sources and that the council should consult the Government Accountability Board regarding the matter.
Other members pointed out what members of the Joint Committee on Finance had brought up Thursday: The State Courts’ budget for the 2015-17 biennium will not have a $11 million lapse. Also, the council still has the option of requesting money from the committee if the State Courts cannot find the money in its budget to fund the council.
Considering the alternatives, Gleisner said that he would not make a motion at the meeting to ask the GAB about alternatives to funding the council until those alternatives were exhausted.Follow @erikastrebel