Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, tried unsuccessfully to add $25,000 in state general funds to the budget for the Judicial Branch to cover half the amount requested for additional Guardian Ad Litem training and recruitment. Those guardians represent children in court cases. “It saves the county having to appoint legal counsel,” Johnson said. “In some cases, the advocate can do the job.” JFAC members backing Johnson's move included Sens. Keough, Bayer, and Lacey, and Reps. Stevenson, Ringo and King, but he was outvoted, 7-13.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee then unanimously approved a budget for the state’s court system that shows a 3.3 percent increase in general funds, 3.6 percent overall. It covers the costs of new judges that are being added next year as a result of legislation making its way through both houses, and grants a $34,000 increase to cover expenses at the state’s Judicial Council, but doesn’t fund several other requests for state funds from the courts, including the increased guardian ad litem training and a new court facilities planning specialist.