Highlights of the final FY12 state budget approved today include the following:
- Good local aid results (detailed in a previous post)
- Strong municipal health care reform (detailed in a previous post)
- Spending below estimated FY11 spending, reflecting the loss of federal aid
- No new taxes or fees
- Limited reserve fund draws
- Optimistic assumptions about savings in medicaid, which if proven false, will lead to higher spending and supplemental appropriations mid-year; because revenues are coming up better than assumed in the budget, this may work out.
- A compromise outcome on reforms of indigent representation.
You can view the official press release from the Speaker’s office here.
The excerpts below from the fact sheet provided by the House Ways and Committee include the following list of particular spending highlights and, further below, a summary of the changes related to indigent defense.
Health and Human Services
- $20M for Adult Day Health (above House 1)-Maintaining current levels of service for 6 months
- Rate freeze for Long Term Care Support Services: Day Hab, Adult Foster Care and Group Adult Foster Care
- Increased Autism Waiver to $3M
- Maintains Current DMH Inpatient Hospital Beds, compared to a closure of 161 beds in House 1
- $6.2M in Additional Funding for Early Intervention
- Increased Suicide Prevention Funding by 11%
- Level funded School Nurses, Substance Abuse, SANE and PediSANE Programs
- Provided Funding for DDS clubhouses.
- $3.2M for the Young Parents Program in the DTA Employment Services Program
- Level Funded Elder Home Care Services and Supportive Senior Housing Program
- Increased Veterans Outreach Centers and Veterans Homeless Services items by 10%.
- $213M for special education circuit breaker – an increase of $80M over FY 2011
- 5% increase for all District Attorneys
- $2M for a New State Police Class
- Increased DOC Funding by $18.7M
- Increased Funding for the Shannon Grants by $1M
- $80 in Additional Funding for SPED Circuit Breaker
- $140M in Additional Chapter 70 Funding
- $3M for Regional School Transportation
- Provided $65M in FY11 Funding for Municipalities
FY12 Conference Report on CPCS
- Changes committee composition to include 2 picks each from the Governor, Speaker and Senate President as well as 9 picks by the SJC. The committee is currently composed of 15 members appointed by the SJC.
- While serving on the committee, private bar advocates may not be assigned or appointed to persons with a case before CPCS.
- Terms of the current members will end 90 days after enactment; however, nothing prohibits the reappointment of old members by any of the appointing authorities.
- When formulating the definition of indigency, CPCS is instructed to utilize the verification standards used by DOR, DTA and the RMV.
- Appointment of counsel by a court is subject to verification of indigency by the chief probation officer or the chief probation officer’s designee.
- The chief probation officer must complete a final report of the financial circumstances of the person for whom counsel was appointed within 7 business days of appointment of counsel. In preparing the final report, the chief probation officer may access, through electronic sharing of information, wage, tax and asset information in the possession of DOR, DTA and RMV. Reverification will occur every 6 months after the final report.
- The commissioner of probation shall submit quarterly reports to Ways and Means detailing the effectiveness of the indigency verification procedures.
- The commissioner of probation, DOR, and DTA must enter into a memorandum of understanding establishing an electronic verification system capable of verifying, within 7 business days of appointment of counsel, a person’s claim of indigency based on wage, tax and asset information. A copy of the memorandum must be submitted to the House and Senate clerks by October 31, 2011.
- The commissioner is also instructed to examine the costs and feasibility of establishing a 1 day verification system.
Payment of fees
- An indigent person is required to pay a fee of $150 unless waived by the judge. A judge still has the authority to substitute community service in lieu of payment.
- If a judge is informed that a person is no longer determined to be indigent, the judge shall revoke the appointment of CPCS counsel. If a person is determined to no longer be indigent, a court appearance would be scheduled as soon as possible prior to the person’s next court appearance if such appearance is more than 2 weeks from the date of the final report.
Private Bar Restrictions
- There is an annual cap of 1650 hours set for private bar advocates. Private bar advocates shall not be paid for any hours in excess of 1650 hours.
Other Cost-Containment and Efficiency Initiatives
- Vendor bills must be submitted by a date certain or CPCS shall be discharged from paying.
- CPCS, and district attorneys, may request electronic copies of transcripts and shall be charged a flat fee of $5.
- CPCS may negotiate their own leases, subject to review and comment by DCAM, for a period of 1 year in order to secure cost-effective office space for new public counsel.
- CPCS is required to submit a report to Ways and Means by September detailing how it will adjust its case ratio so that 25% of cases assigned to CPCS are handled by the public defender division.