On behalf of the San Mateo County Superior Court I wish to thank the countless members of our community who wrote letters, made phone calls, and lobbied the Governor and Legislature to restore funding to the trial courts. Although the recently passed state budget did not provide the level of fiscal relief we had hoped, it will save some jobs and provide access to justice that would have otherwise been lost.
While we appreciate every penny, it should be clear that the $60 million partial funding restoration doesn't begin to erase the damage done by $261 million in current cuts to the trial courts combined with the ongoing $214 million reductions from previous years. Sadly, the partial restoration is not enough to save all of our current Commissioners and employees. On July 15th our court again contracted. Three excellent Commissioners were released (and one vacant Commissioner position will be held open), leaving only three to do the job of seven. Operations at the San Mateo Courthouse were temporarily suspended and the South San Francisco clerk's office and three judicial officers were relocated to Redwood City. In addition, seven valued court employees will be released in September. Unfortunately, such consolidation and further reductions are necessary to meet current budget constraints.
Over the past five years state cuts to the trial courts have necessitated the reduction of 34% of our workforce. The majority of our judiciary and operations are now consolidated in the Hall of Justice in Redwood City. This new fiscal year will again present significant challenges for our court. The loss of Commissioners will contribute to an already developing backlog. Nevertheless, our court has faced these challenges directly. We have reconciled with hard fiscal choices, taken prudent, appropriate actions, cut costs and utilized technology and business process reengineering to maximize access to justice, given our reduced resources. We continue to be committed to providing the best trial court services possible, given our available resources.
We hope that California's fiscal crisis is on the mend. As state tax revenues increase and California becomes more solvent, court funding should increase. I urge everyone to remain vigilant in reminding state lawmakers that a strong economy relies on a judicial system that works. Your continued support is essential as we strive to seek appropriate funding levels for the court. With your help, I am confident that we will restore essential justice to San Mateo County.
Robert D Foiles, Presiding Judge