Sunday, April 18, 2010

Local court faces cutbacks

The newspaper reports:
The local court branch may lose nearly a quarter of its staff if personnel cuts proposed this week are approved, Santa Cruz County Superior Court administrators confirmed Thursday.

The cost-saving measure could mean 20-30 of the court branch's 140 employees will be laid off before the fiscal year ends June 30, according to Alex Calvo, executive officer of the Santa Cruz County Superior Court system. ...

"It's really kind of a drag," said Criswell, who has worked for the court system for more than four years. "The morale is really bad."
A previous editorial said:
In an accompanying analysis of the compensation records, Sentinel reporter Kurtis Alexander found that top managers in Santa Cruz County government saw their salaries increase substantially, with the 10 highest administrators making, on average, an estimated 11 percent more in 2009 than in 2008. ...

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, public employee compensation rose 28.6 percent from 1998 to 2008, compared to 19.3 percent for private workers. In 2009, a year defined by the recession, more than half the states awarded pay raises to employees -- even as deficits grew and services were cut.

Overall in the U.S., government workers make 45 percent more in pay and benefits than people working in the private sector, mostly because benefit packages are about 70 percent higher in government work than private.

California is among the states that allow "double dipping" -- where some public employees retire in their early 50s with lucrative pensions and then take full-time jobs elsewhere, often in the same line of work.

The stark reality is that these costs simply aren't sustainable for state and local governments. It's another reason that in a time of declining tax revenues services are slashed, while governments can't afford to hire new employees. The ones who are hired are often given lesser benefit packages.
I don't know how this will affect the family court, but I do think that the family court is horribly mismanaged. They claim that they are overworked, but they seem to have endless amounts of time to intervene in cases where no intervention is necessary or desirable. I estimate that about 80% of the family court work is completely unnecessary. Maybe the cutbacks will force them to reassess their priorities.

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