CHARLESTON – The Senate Finance Committee voted to approve a resolution that would give the Legislature greater oversight over the judicial system’s budget.
The resolution still needs two-thirds majority on both the Senate floor and House floor, then to be voted on by West Virginia citizens in November to amend the state’s Constitution.
The oversight resolution was brought about after it came to light about the cost of renovations at the Supreme Court. More than $3.7 million has been spent renovating the justices’ offices, including a couch for Chief Justice Allen Loughry’s office that cost approximately $32,000.
In January, Brian Casto, counsel for the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary, pointed out that West Virginia is the only state where the judiciary enjoys the sort of budget autonomy like this.
Essentially, the separation of powers in West Virginia has been interpreted to mean the court system provides its budget and the Legislature may increase it but cannot decrease it.
The last time the Legislature considered this issue was through a 2016 resolution sponsored by former Delegate Patrick Lane. That resolution deleted a provision that the court’s budget shall not be decreased.