State/Local Funding

  • The Wisconsin Judiciary is funded both by the state and by the local funding bodies. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts, the Administrative Office of the Courts, trial court technology and for the salaries of trial court judges and trial court support staff.  The salaries of trial court clerical staff and operating expenses and local courthouses and equipment are paid by local funding bodies.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Wisconsin’s total state and federal grant appropriation of $130.5 million in FY12 remained the same in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation decreased from $113.69 million to $113.62 million; the percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary dropped from 0.81% to 0.77%.
  • Over the past four years, technology funding has decreased by 10%.
  • Increases or reductions of funds by local funding bodies vary by county.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The judicial Branch does not present the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch.  The court budget proposal is submitted simultaneously to the Governor and Legislature, but the Governor decides which court requests to include in the biennial budget bill forwarded to the Legislature.
  • The Judicial Branch does not have budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items.
  • The FY13 budget does not enable the courts to provide for and enhance all necessary technology to meet the demands of the public.  Revenues have decreased and put a strain on the Information Technology budget.
  • The introduction of technologies has enabled the courts and others to provide and receive enhanced court services.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased 1%.  The number of trial court staff has increased 1%.  Central office staff has decreased1%.  In the coming year, staffing will remain the same.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, salaries of judicial officers and court staff have been frozen.  Court staff have been furloughed.  Some retirement and health insurance costs have been moved from the state to the employees.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Wisconsin courts have reduced hours of operation, had staff layoffs and have delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  They have reduced the use of retired judges and have delayed jury trials.

Efficiency Measures:  The Wisconsin courts have implemented e-filing, electronic workflow and in-court updating for docket entries and sentencing orders.  In the coming year, they plan to implement an electronic document management system and an enhanced case management system.  They have implemented e-citation by law enforcement agencies, e-payment of fines and fees and virtual self-help centers.  

Business Processes:  The Wisconsin courts have implemented videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants and remote videoconferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency on a limited basis.  In the coming year, they plan to implement an enhanced caseflow management program.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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