Courts want a new computer system -- but how far will judges go to call for more revenue?

03/03/2013 01:09 PM

The Kentucky court system is moving to Plan B to try to replace it’s computer system, which Kentucky’s chief justice told lawmakers last week is not only antiquated and breaking down but is holding the system back.

Chief Justice John D. Minton told the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee that the court system wants the authority to sell bonds, paid for by court fees, to cover the costs a new system. The measure is still pending in the House budget committee after only being up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.

The courts can’t maximize their efficiency by adopting an electronic filing and docket management system until its more than two-decade-old computer system is replaced, he said.

The Administrative Office of the Courts failed to convince lawmakers to include $28.1 million for the system in the crafting of the biennial budget last year. So they have moved to Plan B as part of House Bill 342 , which was originally drafted to clear the records of Kentuckians whose records still show they were charged with felonies even if they ultimately were charged with misdemeanors. That can be done only if the computer system is upgraded, said Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, who sponsored the bill.

And Minton warned lawmakers that further delay on a new computer system could put the entire system at risk.

“Our failure to move quickly on this can have catastrophic consequences,” Minton told the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee last week. “That’s why this is a very, very high priority and a concern for us.”

Pure Politics spoke to Minton to find out whether the need for such funding means the judicial branch will join other Kentucky officials in calling for tax reform to bring in additional revenue:

And currently, the Supreme Court is considering a case involving instant racing, a game at horse tracks that allow patrons to place bets at video terminals on previously-run races. The gaming provides a small amount of revenue to the state.

It’s being played at two race tracks and could expand to others if the Supreme Court rules that it is constitutional. The Family Foundation of Kentucky has argued that it is essentially a slot machine game that doesn’t fall under parimutuel wagering under Kentucky’s constitution.

So does Minton feel extra pressure rule in favor of instant racing given the court system’s need for more cash?

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