AK court system planning more budget cuts

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Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Craig Stowers says the court system has taken steps to cut costs. In the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the legislatureon Wednesday, he said the courts plan on more cuts.

But Stowers also gave legislators some advice as they shape the budget. He said if leaders act in the interest of Alaskans, their constituents will support them.

“My friends, do not be afraid: Fear is the mind-killer,” he said. “Be bold. Also, be selfless and look to the greater good. You are our elected leaders and leaders sometimes have to make hard decisions their constituents don’t immediately understand or agree with.”

Stowers also urged legislators to ensure that the state’s budget problems don’t fall too heavily on any one group.

The court system cut its budget by 3.5 percent this year, equal to $3.8 million.

Stowers says if the legislature further cuts the courts’ budget, some court locations may have to close. He says this would hit rural Alaska the hardest, where the courts serve as the face of state government.

“It would be a terrible travesty to have to reduce those efforts that you and we have made to reach out to rural Alaska and rural Alaskans, you know, including our Native brothers and sisters out there.”

Governor Bill Walker proposed a total cut of $100 million to the state budget and legislators have been seeking deeper cuts.