There is $212,000 in the state budget for 2009-11 to pay for a 23rd Superior Court judgeship in Pierce County. That’s $106,000 a year for each of two years to pay the state’s half of salary and benefits for the new judge.
It’s up to the Pierce County Council to decide whether it wants to pony up it half of salary and benefits, but if they don’t make a decision sometime soon the state money will go away.
I’m assuming the County Council at some point wanted the option to create a position. Otherwise, the money wouldn’t be in the state budget. But all levels of government are having money problems, and the County Council may have had second thoughts.
UPDATE: (2:32 p.m.) Pierce County lobbyist George Walk called me back to say he’s not sure how the money for another judge got into the 2009-11 state budget. It might be a carryover from the 2007-09 budget because back then the county did want the option of adding another judge.
On the other hand, it could just be a mistake. In the Agency Detail budget notes (another document that seeks to elaborate on stuff in the actual state budget document) there is no money for Pierce, but there is a $212,000 appropriation to the state Administrative Office of the Courts for King County to add a 53rd Superior Court judgeship.
Sounds like it’s just a mix-up.
King County is having its own budget problems. At any rate, if push comes to shove, the money belongs to Pierce County because it was the budget bill that was signed into law, not the budget footnotes.
If Pierce County were to create the position, Gov. Chris Gregoire would be making the initial appointment. Perhaps another woman to break up the still predominantly good ol’ white boys on the Pierce County bench.