Connecticut’s two-year budget cut out one of the most important funding portions: probate courts. Under the new budget, which has been approved, the state’s 54 probate courts will not receive any funding at all from the state.
The state says the cut in the budget is meant to increase fees needed to cover operational costs.
Residents are also looking at a startling statistic that shows state judges will be getting raises while some of the state’s courts will have to impose higher fees to operate effectively. The state’s probate courts were asking for $15 million in funding. Currently, the courts need $40 million to operate with the remaining $25 million coming directly from fees.
Decedent estates will be the ones most affected by the change. The courts will be moving to a complete fee-based system. Lawyers in the state say that there will be severe challenges moving forward.
Estimates show that the proposed increase will raise revenue by $12 million, with $3 million needed to operate as normal. The 54 courts will need to reduce the services they currently offer or find other ways to cut the costs of probate. The courts are prepared to ask for restoration of funding next year in an attempt to keep fully operational.
The Judicial Branch had originally requested a budget of $575 million; probate funding was included in the request. The budget provided $552 million in funding with $23 million cut from various court systems including probate courts.
According to the Judicial Branch, the majority of the budget goes to the court’s 4,000 employees. The Judicial Branch has stated that they do not anticipate any layoffs being necessary despite the steep budget cuts for probate courts and being provided with $23 million less than requested.
A proposal was submitted earlier in the year to move court services out of the Judicial Branch, but the proposal was declined.
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