FINAL 2021 Annual Report


Calendar year 2021 marked a new beginning in the path to funding restoration for SBSC. After experiencing $8 million in funding reductions in FY 2020-21, the court began to experience a better budget outlook in FY 2021-22, which began on July 1, 2021. This change was mostly attributed to vast improvements to the State of California’s revenue outlook, which saw improvements in personal income tax receipts –mostly due to capital gains – sales tax revenues, and support from the federal government. The trial court system in California is state-funded and the Judicial Branch saw a large change from the previous budget cycle where SBSC endured $8 million in funding reductions, coupled with the loss of additional new funding that had been proposed in January 2020 (pre- pandemic). Due to the restoration of funding and an additional ongoing and one-time funding specifically to address backlogs, SBSC improved its budget outlook growing from being funded at only 70% of its workload based need in FY 2020-21 to 76.8% in FY 2021-22. Adequate and stable funding is critical to providing continuity of court services and access to justice. In FY 2020-21, SBSC saw an $8 million funding reduction requiring the court to implement multiple cost reduction measures in a short period. These measures included freezing vacancies (which almost tripled the court’s pre- pandemic vacancy rate), implementing furloughs, reducing contracts, and limiting public hours at the clerk’s office. With 85% of the court’s expenditures being salaries and benefits, not hiring additional staffing impacted our ability to process filings. With the restoration of funding on July 1, 2021, the court is beginning to see a recovery, and SBSC has started filling vacancies, increasing public hours, and implementing other efficiencies to restore court services. Funding Reductions Responses & Impacts Although the budget was much more promising in FY 2020-21, legislative mandates including AB 1869 and AB 177, which repealed certain administrative fees, reduced local revenues by roughly $800,000, without the benefit of a state revenue backfill in FY 2021-22. Court staff worked with county partners to update 44,147 cases pursuant to AB 1869 and 346,807 cases pursuant to AB 177, resulting in the elimination of 17 fine/fee types owed. The budget outlook for FY 2022-23 is more promising and includes proposed revenue backfills to offset the local impacts, though sustained state funding is necessary. The public at large was impacted in many ways during the pandemic and the court paused referring cases to collections. In 2021, the court also processed its first discharge of accountability, which impacted 133,523 cases totalling $84.7 million dating back to cases from 2010. Statutory Changes & Court Debt In 2021, SBSC was awarded $634,677 in grant funding from the Judicial Council for two technology projects related to remote access: 1) a new public access portal and 2) audio-visual equipment for courtrooms. The Court Access Portal (CAP) was developed locally with initial programming shared by Santa Clara Superior Court for a replacement website to access electronic court case information online. Moving from a Tyler software product, which experienced instability, to an in-house solution allows the court to consistently and fluidly meet the needs of our organization and community of attorneys and the public while increasing system stability and performance. Utilization of Grants to Help Expand Remote Access


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