State/Local Funding

  • The Kentucky Judiciary is primarily a state funded system. 
  • The state pays for the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, the salaries of judges, support staff and clerical staff and for trial court technology, operating expenses, courthouses and equipment.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the Kentucky judicial system increased from $353 million in FY12 to $365 million in FY13.  State general fund appropriations of $316 million remained essentially the same.
  • The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary dropped from 3.48% to 3.405%.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely get worse.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch submits its budget directly to the Legislature without prior approval by the Executive Branch. 
  • The Judiciary has the authority to manage its budget, which has a few line items.
  • While technology funding has increased by 8% over the past four years, the Judiciary does not have adequate funding to provide for necessary technology.  The technology fee collected is not sufficient to fund the needed enhancements.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has remained the same while the number of trial court staff persons has been reduced by 6%, the  number of central office staff persons has been reduced by 11% and funding for trial court operation expenses has been reduced by 5%.  In the coming year, the number of judges and staff persons will remain the same.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Kentucky courts have imposed staff layoffs and have delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerk’s offices and in judicial support positions.  The courts will continue to delay filling vacancies in the coming fiscal year.

Compensation:  In the coming year, the courts will freeze the salaries of judicial officers and court staff and will furlough court staff.  

Efficiency Measures:  The Kentucky courts enable law enforcement to file e-citations.  They have e-warrants statewide.  Some fines and fees can be paid on-line.  The courts are in the process of seeking funding for developing a new “e-courts” case management system to encompass e-filing and an electronic document management system. 

Centralization:  The courts have a centralized jury management system.

The Kentucky courts are in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  The Kentucky Judiciary needs to increase salaries for Judicial Branch employees whose pay has continued to fall behind that of the Executive and Legislative Branches.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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