Chief Justice Minton suspends hiring freeze, says no layoffs in Fiscal Year 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky., July 1, 2011 – Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. announced today that, after several years of budget cuts and austerity measures, the Judicial Branch budget is expected to remain stable for Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012). The chief justice suspended the three-year hiring freeze for the state court system and said there would be no staff reductions in the coming fiscal year.

“I’m pleased our budget outlook has improved,” Chief Justice Minton said. “The court system had to take difficult steps to weather this recession, including layoffs, a hiring freeze and other measures. These actions, however aggressive they seemed at the time, have allowed the court system to avoid the worst-case scenario of mass layoffs, mass furloughs and closed courthouse doors.

“I think it’s fair to say that this has been the most financially challenging period for the Judicial Branch since our modern court system was created in 1976. Through it, we have emerged a stronger, leaner court system. While this is encouraging news, we must remain vigilant about monitoring our budget as the economy slowly recovers.”

The chief justice announced the news today in an email to all elected and non-elected court personnel statewide. The message also stated that the enacted budget bill for FY 12 does not provide for annual increments for any of the three branches of government.

The Judicial Branch has sustained millions in budget cuts since 2008. The Kentucky Court of Justice implemented a hiring freeze in May 2008 and, in September 2009, abolished 47 positions and trimmed operations. After the latest cuts last spring, the chief justice announced a plan in April 2010 to ensure the Judicial Branch could balance its biennial budget. The plan saved an additional $6.7 million and eliminated 113 positions, which was 3.4 percent of the court system’s non-elected workforce. The cuts were effective July 1, 2010, and affected all four levels of the court system.

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