St. Paul, MN. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee advanced the Judiciary Finance omnibus budget bill on a vote of 10-7. This bill takes the necessary step of adequately funding critical justice system services for the first time in decades. With this legislation, the total judiciary budget for FY22/23 is $140 million.
“Our committee has been hard at work this session to craft a budget bill that ensures Minnesota meets its constitutional obligation to provide justice for all. We crafted a bill that takes into account the testimony of impacted citizens, advocates, and experts to create legislation that brings our justice system closer to our ideals of fairness and equity,” said Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL - Roseville), Chair of the committee. “Adequate funding to reach basic functionality in our legal system is long overdue and will benefit Minnesotans in every part of our state.”
The main focus of this year's bill is to adequately fund each sector of our justice system. The Minnesota Justice system functions like a three legged stool made up of our Courts system, Public Defense, and Civil Legal Services. If any one of these is underfunded or understaffed, the whole system is out of balance. This balance is accomplished in this year's budget through historic, necessary increases in funding for Public Defense at $50 million for FY22/23 and Civil Legal Services at $47,857,000 for FY22/23. Both of these funding levels extend into the tails.
In addition, the bill eliminates fees for uncertified copies of public court documents, establishes an Office of Appellate Counsel for parents, and establishes increased ongoing funding for the Family Resiliency Partnership.
The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill language is available here. The spreadsheet can be found here. A video recording of today’s committee discussion is available on the House Public Information YouTube channel.