Senators Approve Judiciary Budget

The state judiciary would experience a budget cut and Minnesotans who use some court services would pay higher fees under a budget proposal senators approved Tuesday.

The Senate voted 40-25 to cut the state’s court system by about 1.5 percent for the two-year budget period beginning July 1.

Senators approved the $740 million spending package that supporters said would result in a 7 percent budget cut, if not for fee increases included in the bill.

The bill proposes $52.6 million in cuts and $34 million in fee increases.

“It gives me great displeasure to submit these reductions, but I believe we have done the best we could,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Leo Foley, DFL-Coon Rapids, told senators.

Before passing the bill, senators voted to remove a provision that would have prohibited law enforcement agencies from charging administrative penalties to enforce state laws. The amendment removing the prohibition, authored by Sen. Yvonne Prettner-Solon, DFL-Duluth, passed 47-18 to allow cities to charge the penalties instead of fines.

“I think we can put our trust in our local officials out there that are saying, ‘it’s working,’” said Republican Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria, a former county sheriff.