Friday, November 14, 2008

The Cost of Free Goes Higher.

A bit of irony: Exactly one week after I posted the accumulated cost of the system that supports "free" access to court information in Indiana, we have received word from a representative of the Association of Indiana Counties that the Court's proposal to the Indiana State Budget Committee this morning includes a request for a 42% increase in the Court Record Automation Fee. (Pull out your calculators and look at my last post to see how much that adds to the cost of "free".)

Oddly, that's not even the most interesting aspect of the proposal. It sounds like they're proposing eliminating elected clerks. I'll try to obtain a copy of the proposal and post it here along with more thorough analysis when it becomes available. Until then, here's a quote with the highlights:

"Today the Supreme Court announced their budget proposal to the State Budget Committee. The proposal included the appointment of clerks by the state, probation fees absorbed by the state, and a $7-10 fee increase for the JTAC Odyssey system."

Update: I have now obtained a partial copy of the budget proposal. Many pages are missing, so I'll wait until I have a clean copy to post it. Here are a few figures:

On page 12, the proposal requests that the automated record keeping fee "be increased by $3 to $10 per case filed, effective July 1, 2009."

The bottom line on the entire budget is that the Court intends to increase its spending overall from an estimated $136,180,673 in FY '08-'09 to $164,133,297 in FY'09-'10. An increase of roughly 28 million dollars. Since they expect less of this to be funded by "dedicated" funds, this will translate to about $32.7 million more out of State "general" (tax) funds.

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