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State courts one step closer to $418 million infusion
Local officials on hand as lawmakers vote more judiciary funds
SACRAMENTO • A second vote that could save Barstow court by restoring $418 million to the state judiciary, this time in front of a Senate subcommittee, is expected within the next couple of weeks.
On Wednesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #5 on Public Safety voted in Sacramento to return the money to the state court system. It was the first of two committees the proposal needed to pass through.
Hesperia Mayor Bill Holland praised the actions.
“Timing couldn’t be better as May 6 (slated termination of full-time operations at Barstow court) is around the corner,” Holland explained. “That being said, we might be able to keep Barstow courts open for longer.”
The subcommittee session was attended by Holland, Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre and other mayors from the High Desert, including Cari Thomas of Adelanto and Mayor Pro Tem Art Bishop of Apple Valley.
The $418 million funding increase is also part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget.
Holland called recent efforts to fight court funding inequality “collaborative” on Friday.
“We understood going in, this wasn’t going to be a quick fight,” he said. “This was going to be a long battle. And we’ve come back (from Sacramento) each time with tangible results.”
“I think we’re making a difference,” she said on Thursday. “It’s extremely nice to have that many people up there to help fund for our trial courts.”
Each mayor — nine from San Bernardino County, according to Holland — was afforded one minute to speak in front of the subcommittee.
“Personally, we all gave a little bit about how (court funding inequality) was going to affect our community,” Hackbarth-McIntyre said. “I just went over who we are.”
Hackbarth-McIntyre explained she also made it a point to discuss Barstow’s proximity to Fort Irwin — a factor that widens any legislative impact to the Barstow courthouse since it’s felt by a broad surrounding community.
The mayors and other local officials — including Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janice Rutherford and the president and vice president of the High Desert Bar Association — also met with Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, and representatives from the governor’s office and California Department of Finance.
Next up for Hackbarth-McIntyre and Holland, they said, is potentially testifying on behalf of Donnelly’s Assembly Bill 1313 — which calls for more judges and additional funding increases for the state’s judicial system.
An upcoming report from the state’s Department of Finance could also shed light on how a $418 million-infusion into the state’s judiciary will affect courts in San Bernardino County, including Barstow.
One week prior to Wednesday’s vote, a last-minute reprieve in the form of $1.2 million from state courts reserves assured one Barstow courtroom would stay open at least through June of next year.
While recent developments have been a step in the right direction, there’s still work to be done, according to Hackbarth-McIntyre, who noted, “(Wednesday) won’t be my last trip to Sacramento.”
Staff Writer Brook Self contributed to this report.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.