The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are polar opposites on the issue of thawing the freeze on filling judicial vacancies.
The Senate committee recommended spending $4.8 million, which would be enough to fill all the vacancies. Not a dime for that purpose under the House committee’s budget.
The House panel would restore all of the $5 million that Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed to take from the Virginia State Bar, while the Senate committee would still take half of the bar’s money.
The House panel also would eliminate $2.95 million in funding for drug courts and take $297,171 from the Indigent Defense Commission, or about half of its projected year-end balance for the end of the 2011 fiscal year.
The House and Senate view of the judiciary reflects what happened on the proposal to realign the state’s judicial circuits and districts. The House Courts of Justice Committee on Friday decided to press forward with the plan, which would not take effect until July 1, 2012, although the measure would require re-enactment in the 2012 session of the legislature.
As we reported in more detail in a blog on Friday, Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, patron of redistricting in the Senate, said he favors asking the Supreme Court to respond to the proposal and report to a subcommittee of the courts committee by the fall.
The House patron for redistricting, Del. Bill Janis, R-Henrico, said he believes the House needs to continue to be assertive to make sure something gets done on the proposal.
By Alan Cooper