Governor Mark Dayton and Republicans are getting ready to negotiate a major budget bill that funds operation of Minnesota’s court system, and a top GOP lawmaker acknowledges the governor will be concerned the dollar amount isn’t high enough. Maple Grove Senator Warren Limmer says, “I can guarantee you that will be an issue, and it is a concern of most of the members here in the committee as well. So it’s not a dead issue in any little way.”
The week before last, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea took the highly unusual step of appearing before a House/Senate conference committee, asking lawmakers to fully fund the judicial branch’s budget request. Gildea said, “When everything else breaks down, the courts are where the people come… and they come seeking justice.” She told lawmakers Minnesota courts face challenges that threaten their ability to process cases in a timely manner and ensure access to justice. Gildea said without adequate funding, there could be a shortage of court interpreters and psychological exams for defendants, plus drug courts could close and court records be put at risk without cybersecurity improvements.