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07/18/2024 08:11 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: April 29, 2024 12:03 PM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller and Rep. Emily Kinkead
To: All House members
Subject: Supporting our Courts
Over the past two decades, our court system has grown increasingly reliant on fines levied by them upon the people who they supervise to pay for their operational cost. In the early 2000s such fines represented approximately 1% of the courts budget. Today this reliance has grown to approximately 20%. 

Historically speaking, the cost of our court system had been born by the body politic as a whole through appropriations by the legislature. During challenging budget times and in adoption of a “user” based funding logic, a drastic shift has occurred. If this trend continues, it may erode the legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of the public. The courts are a separate but equal branch of government with the constitutional prescription to administer justice. Their essential mission must not be compromised even by the smallest hint of impropriety or the perceived or real need to close a budget shortfall. 

Accordingly, this resolution would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report to the General Assembly on exactly how dependent our court system has grown on collecting fines to pay for its operational needs, forecast future suspected growth in this trend, and detail what would be needed should the legislature wish to stem this projection or eliminate it. 

In today’s times where too many have questioned the legitimacy of some of our nation's institutions, it is imperative that the General Assembly never allow our courts to lose credibility due to our own unwillingness to appropriately fund their constitutional mission.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this resolution.

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Introduced as HR416