Grant: Courts working to do more with less

TRENTON – New Jersey’s judiciary is being forced to do more with less, according to top New Jersey Courts officials.

Judiciary officials testified before the state’s Assembly Budget Committee Thursday, telling lawmakers that state funding is failing to keep pace with “normal growth in operational costs,” said Judge Glenn Grant, the acting administrative director of the courts.

“The operational challenges confronting our judicial system remain essentially unchanged from last year. It is anticipated that the long-term reduction in the size of government will continue,” Grant said.

“The inability of our funding levels to keep pace with normal growth in operational costs has necessitated a downsizing or our workforce from five years ago and caused us to defer man initiatives,” he said. “We have eliminated expenditures in discretionary areas in our system and focused our attention on the core operations.”

Grant said the courts are “focused on savings in the personnel area,” explaining the judiciary is downsizing the number of workers, deferring salary increases and even holding off on upgrading computers and other purchases.

However, Grant assured lawmakers that despite the lack of increased funding, the courts are satisfying their workloads.

“Our productivity remains high despite our smaller operation and staffing challenges,” Grant said.

“Like last year, we resolved more than 7 million cases in our courts,” he said. “Such accomplishments are only possible because of the outstanding leadership and talent of the personnel of the Judiciary.”

The governor’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposes a $4.5 million boost in state funding compared to the last fiscal year. The additional funds are itemized for treatment services and the expansion of the state’s drug court.