Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, chief court administrator Connecticut Judicial Branch
Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, right, chief court administrator, testifies. At left is Tom Siconolfi, executive director of administrative services for the Judicial Branch.
Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, right, chief court administrator, testifies about the impact of budget cuts on the courts earlier in the session. At left is Tom Siconolfi, executive director of administrative services for the Judicial Branch. Keith M. Phaneuf / CTMirror.org

Connecticut’s Judicial Branch warned late Monday that Gov. Dannel. P. Malloy’s latest budget proposal would force the branch to increase layoffs by at least 600, losing one-fifth of all staff.

In a letter to the governor and legislative leaders, Judge Patrick L. Carroll III, the chief court administrator, also warned that, under the governor’s proposal, “every function that we perform, including those that meet both statutory and constitutional responsibilities, will be compromised.”

He added that Malloy’s new anti-recidivism program, Second Chance Society, “would be dramatically reduced” and the budget proposal would force closure of the branch’s Bridgeport Detention Center.

The Democratic governor unveiled a $19.7 billion spending plan Monday for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — his third since early February — in an effort to bring stalled budget negotiations with the legislature to fruition.

Malloy’s budget, which closes a $960 million deficit in 2016-17 finances without raising taxes, imposes deep cuts on most segments of state spending.

It would reduce the salary line item for the Judicial Branch by nearly $57 million from the preliminary 2016-17 budget adopted last June. The court system, which ordered 126 layoffs last month, would need to order “no fewer than an additional 600,” Carroll wrote.

With about 3,700 employees in the entire Judicial Branch, at least one-fifth of the staff would be eliminated, he wrote.

When branch officials announced the 126 layoffs on April 14, they also said plans were being developed to close multiple courthouses, though they didn’t disclose how many or where they are located.

Court officials accept the branch must be part of the solution to the budget woes, Carroll wrote, but the courts the would face a disproportionately heavy burden in the governor’s new plan.

Though funding for court personnel represents 3 percent of the entire state budget, it would drop 14.8 percent.

The Malloy administration has said on several occasions this spring that General Fund spending on Judicial Branch personnel grew by almost 10 percent between the 2013 and 2015 fiscal years. The administration did not comment on Carroll’s letter late Monday.

The chief court administrator also questioned whether some of the governor’s proposed cuts would be cost-efficient.

“There is no question that current initiatives that are essential to saving money in the Department of Correction and elsewhere will be gutted,” Carroll wrote, citing various anti-recidivism programs. “In fact, it is impossible to imagine how we could consider undertaking additional responsibilities as part of the Second Chance Society and Raise the Age initiatives because the very staff responsible for their implementation would be dramatically reduced.”

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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