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STATE BUDGET NEWS IS GOOD FOR THE COURTS Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday suggested increasing California’s trial court funding by $220.4 million, to $2.7 billion, for the coming fiscal year when he submitted his initial budget proposal to the Legislature. Chief Justice Ronald George said the courts fared as expected following a meeting he had with the governor last month and added that he’s pleased with the increases. “We think we’re being treated quite fairly.” Following hearings and a revised proposal by Schwarzenegger expected in May, the state Legislature is supposed to pass a budget bill by mid-June for the fiscal year that begins July 1. “It’s not everything that the courts could use,” said AOC Chief Deputy Director Ronald Overholt, noting that after years of economic downturn, court administrators and presiding judges have a number of ideas for spending that could improve the courts. But the governor’s proposal is certainly a step forward, he added. Schwarzenegger has “been very supportive of the goals of the chief [justice] and Judicial Council,” and one goal was to build more stability into the budget process for the judicial branch, Overholt said. This is the first time the trial court budget has had what the governor’s office calls a “growth factor” added. Under legislation passed last year, the judicial branch budget must be increased by an amount pegged to changes in population and the cost of living. — Pam Smith

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