Judicial Branch Facing $35 million dollar deficit in current fiscal year…more layoffs possible.

A month after a round of layoffs, state court officials warned a panel of lawmakers Thursday that the agency needs an additional $44 million in the next fiscal year to avoid further worker cutbacks.

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Laurie Dudgeon told a legislative budget subcommittee that the state’s courts system would have trouble functioning if it does not get the extra cash starting July 1, 2010.  The agency was budgeted to spend $273 million in the current fiscal year.

Dudgeon said that AOC would need $72 million more than it now gets in the second year of the upcoming biennial budget.

AOC officials said Thursday that they won’t know if more layoffs will be necessary until the 2010 General Assembly approves the biennial budget in April.

Because of declining state revenues, the state judicial branch faces a deficit of $35 million in the fiscal year that began July 1. The agency laid off 47 workers and trimmed other expenses last month, saving an estimated $4.5 million.

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