Court Machinery Seizes Up – Money Flow Stops

Three weeks ago we predicted that local government layoffs would result from Gov. Bel Edwards order to shut down the state to all but “essential” activities, and the resultant collapse in sales tax revenues.

It happened more quickly than even we had expected.

Last week, The City of Ruston’s entire 300 person workforce was affected, with layoffs, furloughs, and pay and overtime cuts.

See here Nancy Bergeron’s “City Enacts Layoffs, Cutbacks in Face of Virus” in the 4/5/20 Ruston Daily Leader.

Now another segment of government has seen much of its revenue vanish overnight – the state’s court system.

We saw an online posting this morning that suggested that all Louisiana’s indigent defenders were being laid off and they had been directed to apply for unemployment benefits.

That report is NOT accurate.

We checked with sources that have knowledge of the matter, and were told that indeed SOME of the state’s Indigent Defender Board (IDB) districts were in trouble and might have to furlough some employees.

Recall that three weeks ago, courts across the state shuttered for all but “essential” business.

The problem is when there’s no court, there are no fines, court costs, and fees coming in.

The local Third Judicial District Indigent Defender Board audit shows they have a fund balance that should last them to the end of the fiscal year (6/30/20), but since almost all their revenue (about $900 thousand/year) comes from fines and court costs, that is a temporary situation.

We checked on how much this revenue source funded other courthouse crowd entities, and here’s what we found.

The Third Judicial District Attorney audit shows that between 1/4 and 1/3 of that agency’s revenues comes from fees (about $900 thousand). That office appears to have a healthy fund balance in reserve.

The Third Judicial District Court Fund audit shows that entity gets about 1/4 of its revenue from fees (about $240 thousand). This agency also has a positive fund balance.

I was once told in jest by a politician that “tax money don’t never run out.” Well, yes it can. And it’s one of the laws of nature that if the host gets sick or dies, the parasite has nothing to feed upon.

Looks like Bel Edwards better figure out how to get things up and running PDQ, or he won’t have any government employees to give orders to.

2 Responses to “Court Machinery Seizes Up – Money Flow Stops”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Heisenberg has gone silent.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    John Boy Edwards.

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