The Maryland Judiciary seeks $665.4 million in fiscal year 2022 – a 4.8% increase from the $634.6 million appropriated for the judicial branch this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The budget request includes $591.7 million from the state’s general fund, a 5.9% increase from the $558.6 million appropriation for the current year.
About 78.5% percent of the Judiciary’s proposed increase from the general fund is attributable to a requested $26 million rise in salaries, wages and fringe benefits. The budget request calls for no change in authorized positions, which would remain at 4,068.
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera is expected to defend the Judiciary’s request at hearings in coming weeks before subcommittees of the Senate Budget & Taxation and House Appropriations committees.
“The Judiciary continues to respond assiduously to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the people of Maryland receive fair, efficient, and effective justice despite unprecedented challenges,” Barbera wrote in a letter to committee leaders last month.
“The FY2022 budget reflects the hardware, software, network upgrades, and other resources needed to respond to changing social and health conditions by developing, implementing, and supporting video court proceedings, remote screening of jury candidates, online interpreter services, remote alternate dispute meetings, and maintaining high-quality administrative services for Judiciary employees and vendors,” Barbera added.
The Judiciary’s budget request is independent of the budget Gov. Larry Hogan proposed Jan. 20 for executive branch agencies in fiscal 2022, which begins July 1. The Maryland Constitution bars the governor from altering the Judiciary’s proposed budget – but the General Assembly can.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has effected the vulnerable in Maryland more severely,” Barbera wrote in the letter. “The need for resources to maintain and enhance the proven network of drug courts, juvenile drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans’ dockets and related services is more important than ever.”
Under the Judiciary’s request, the Court of Appeals’ budget for next fiscal year would increase to $14.2 million from $13.9 this year. The high court received $11.8 million in fiscal 2020.
The state’s intermediate court, the Court of Special Appeals, would have its budget increase to $14.3 million from $13.8 million this fiscal year.
Baltimore and Maryland’s 23 counties pay to maintain circuit courts but not the judges’ and clerks’ offices in their jurisdictions. The Judiciary’s fiscal 2022 budget would provide $73.5 million for the salaries, wages and fringe benefits of the circuit court judges and their staff, a $3.2 million increase from this year.
The proposed budget would also provide $142.5 million to the clerks’ offices at the circuit courts, an $8.1 million increase from this year’s figure of $134.4 million.
The number of authorized positions in the clerks’ offices would remain constant at 1,477.
The district courts’ budget would rise $10.4 million, to $224.3 million from $213.9 million this fiscal year. The number of authorized positions would remain constant at 1,586.5.
The Administrative Office of the Courts’ budget would climb to $100.5 million from $96.3 million this fiscal year.
Judicial salaries are set by statute.
Barbera is paid $210,433, while the six other Court of Appeals judges are each paid $191,433.
Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader is paid $181,633, while the 14 other Court of Special Appeals judges are each paid $178,633.
Circuit Court judges are paid $169,433.
District Court Chief Judge John P. Morrissey is paid $178,633, while other District Court judges are paid $156,333.