Restoring Funding to The California Court System Will Grow the California Economy

The definition of taking something for granted is to value it too lightly or expect it to always be available. A real world example of this is California court system. Budget cuts since 2008 have cut funding to the tune of almost $2 Billion. These unprecedented cuts have drastically affected the judicial branch’s ability to carry out its many necessary functions and services it provides to the people and businesses of California. Anyone who has had a recent dealing with the courts and its services will likely agree that things have become excruciatingly slow and more expensive with many new fees adding up to the financial equivalent of death by a thousand tiny cuts. Even if you haven’t had a recent experience with the courts, perhaps taking it for granted, the words “slow” and “expensive” should still trouble you. Slow and expensive is not the recipe for a strong economy.

Restoring funding to the courts would not only make the experience of using the court system better for individuals it would also help spur a stronger economy. To quote Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, “A fully funded judicial system is essential because it promotes the economic success of our state. Our form of democracy is essential to a strong economy that is built on innovation and entrepreneurship. Citizens and business owners rely on and expect the courts to be there for them to protect their constitutional rights and fairly resolve disputes. Our system of justice guarantees that future returns to private investments are accepted and promises of future payments are made.” If you don’t think this is the case, visit a country considered to be “third-world” and look at the judicial systems in place there.

A strong economy requires good laws and good judges to enforce the laws and make sure everyone is playing by the same rules. This transparency creates an environment where individuals and businesses are willing to invest in the future. When there’s uncertainly in judicial system due to delays or perceived disadvantage it discourages investors from taking chances and can cause the death of businesses involved in litigation or the threat of litigation. A well-funded judiciary provides a vital support structure to a strong economy giving actors in every part of the eco-system of business, protection. From investors, to corporation management and employees, everyone benefits.

Governor Jerry Brown’s May revise budget has increased funding to the courts this year by $160 Million. This is certainly a welcomed development but it’s only a start and much is still needed. The courts are still dealing with almost $2 Billion in cuts to the system over the past five years. The judicial branch is supposed to be one of three co-equal branches of government but only if it has enough funds to operate that way. We should never take this branch of government for granted. Again to quote Allan Zaremberg, “It is critical to remember that when the state sets its blueprint for funding priorities, it must heavily weigh the adverse consequences to the fundamentals of democracy by limiting access to justice. The courts are different from statutory government programs. They are central to our freedom.”

Regal Staff
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