By Jacob Rund
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court presented its proposed budget Tuesday to the House Ways and Means Committee, requesting nearly $98 million in funds for the next biennium – including $24.4 million to increase court technology.
Chief Justice Loretta Rush, accompanied by other high-ranking judiciary officials, told the committee about the importance of expanding electronic filing services to all counties in the state.
Rush said roughly 50 percent of U.S. states have starting using e-filing in some capacity, and if implemented in Indiana, would save local and state government agencies more money than it costs to put into place.
By converting to an e-filing system, the office of the Attorney General is expected to save $150,000 per year, and the clerk of courts estimates an average annual savings of $200,000.
“All of this makes sense, and good sense for the state of Indiana,” Appeals Court Judge Paul Mathias said during the presentation. “It will save more than it costs.”
The contract for the electronic filing system is projected to cost $2.7 million in Fiscal Year 2016 and $4.9 million in FY 2017.
Along with the filing expansion, the Supreme Court plans to use the requested technology funds to increase case management and information technology programs.
Almost $65 million – the heftiest portion of the Supreme Court’s proposed budget for the next two fiscal years – will be used to fund several aspects of criminal code reform.
The reform costs will cover community supervision grants, probation officer training, local probation capacity, probation quality assurance, and juvenile justice reform.
The Supreme Court also requested funds to provide counties with additional court interpreters – a need stemming from a 200 percent increase in non-English speakers appearing in Indiana courts.
“We are asking to build capacity so we can at least stay above water level to provide services for our non-English speakers,” Rush said.
The Ways and Means Committee is expected to write the first draft of the state’s budget in the next few weeks and will decide whether or not to approve the full amount of money requested by the Supreme Court.
Jacob Rund is the assistant editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.