Juvenile Court Judges Commission drafts letter urging Pa. GOP to reconsider cuts

     The GOP plan made across-the-board cuts, including ones to courts and various related programs. (AP Photo)

    The GOP plan made across-the-board cuts, including ones to courts and various related programs. (AP Photo)

    The state House GOP’s budget plan proposes across-the-board cuts. But, one of the more-heavily affected areas is the court system.

    Leaders of some of the impacted state program leaders are drafting complaints to tell lawmakers deep reductions will jeopardize their work.

    One such program is the Juvenile Court Judges Commission, which oversees juvenile justice across the state.

    The GOP budget zeros out the nearly $19 million dollar Juvenile Probation Services program, which the commission’s executive director, Richard Steele, said will force standards to fall.

    “The line item for probation services has allowed our juvenile justice system to rise to the point where it’s seen as a star,” he said.

    House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin said the cuts are a necessary part of his caucus’s approach —forcing agencies to take a hard look at their spending.

    Overall, the Republicans’ plan–which doesn’t raise any taxes —cuts well over $31 million from the $350 million Judiciary System budget. Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed spending plan, by contrast, flat-funded courts.

    Steele says the commission is distributing its letter this week, and will focus on getting it to Republican leaders.

    “We’ve never seen this, so it’s difficult to project exactly what to expect,” he said. “But it’s unthinkable, in my mind, moving forward in the next year without those funds.”

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