CT Judicial Branch will lay off 126, plans courthouse closures

Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, right, chief court administrator, testifies. At left is Tom Siconolfi, executive director of administrative services for the Judicial Branch.

Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, right, chief court administrator, testifies before the Appropriations Committee in February. At left is Tom Siconolfi, executive director of administrative services for the Judicial Branch.

Connecticut’s Judicial Branch has announced that 126 workers will be laid off in response to anticipated budget cuts for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick L. Carroll III wrote Wednesday in a letter to staff that they are “developing plans to close courthouses and offices and to consolidate the staff and operations into other locations.”

Further details on these changes were not available Thursday.

Although a state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016, has not yet been finalized, we have no reason to expect the approval of a final budget under which layoffs will not be necessary,” Rogers and Carroll wrote. “The budget cuts we face are simply too large.”

Branch officials noted that proposals from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature include cuts to branch operations for 2016-17 that range from $47 million to $75 million.

Representatives of the governor’s administration and leaders of the legislature’s Democratic majority are expected to negotiate in coming days on a new state budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The preliminary 2016-17 spending plan, which lawmakers and Malloy adopted last June, is about $930 million in deficit, or about 5 percent, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

The state income tax — which typically funds about half of the annual budget — will raise almost $9.5 billion next fiscal year, according to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis. That’s $878 million less than what the governor and legislators were counting on when they adopted the preliminary 2016-17 budget 10 months ago.

Carroll warned legislators earlier this session that the severe Judicial Branch cuts under consideration could “compromise access to justice for our citizens.” The chief court administrator predicted this would  affect virtually all aspects of court operations, weakening security, anti-recidivism and victim support programs and even the legal research services on which judges rely.

Though full details on the layoffs were not available Thursday, the branch released memorandums showing 10 worker categories were effected, including various juvenile detention facility staff, food services assistants, judicial marshal trainees and other security personnel.

Layoff notices were expected to be issued by the end of business Thursday, and the effective date of these layoffs is June 24, according to branch officials.

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