SEIU members fought hard for an audit of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to eliminate wasteful spending and put more money back into providing services to the public. The audit found $30 million dollars’ worth of questionable spending and made note of executive salaries and office locations. It also confirms the concerns frontline court workers have expressed for years and underscores the reason we advocated for an audit last year: the Administrative Office of the Courts’ mismanagement and misplaced prioritizes have compromised the delivery of justice to Californians.
The auditors found that eight of nine office directors were being paid more than California’s governor. It is imperative that the Legislature demand improved accountability and transparency to restore taxpayers’ trust in the judicial branch and ensure the timely access to justice that is at the heart of a civil society. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has put together a committee to study the audit and make recommendations and we must be ready to stay involved so the findings don’t get brushed aside.
Governor Brown’s 2015-2016 budget adds $160 million dollars to the statewide court budget, half of which is dedicated to trial courts that have been hardest hit over the past few years. It’s time we invested in justice for our communities and this budget starts the process. We are still recovering from the loss of $1 billion dollars in cuts, but every bit that comes back to our communities is a good thing.
Our work with state legislators was critical to getting this money back into the justice system and there may be more opportunities to get involved before July 1, 2015 when the budget will be finalized. Talk to a steward or organizer to get more involved.
Read more about the budget here: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_27289741/california-courts-get-funding-boost-gov-browns-budget
If you’re not a full member of SEIU, now is the time to get involved. Our work every day creates better services and better working conditions. Go to seiu521.org/membership and sign up today!