MONTGOMERY (AP) — Alabama’s court system is in “dire” financial condition and 300 of its workers may lose their jobs under budget proposals being considered by the Legislature, Chief Justice Roy Moore told a Montgomery civic club Monday.
Moore told members of the Montgomery Rotary Club that the court system has $38 million less now than when he took office for the first time in 2001. He said there are 498 fewer court employees now than in 2001, and proposals before the Legislature could cost another 300 their jobs. He said if the cuts continue, the system eventually will reach a breaking point.
“There comes a time when you can’t keep the power on,” the chief justice said.
Moore recently ordered court clerk’s offices closed on Wednesdays. He said the offices will still be staffed on Wednesdays but closing the doors to the public will allow staff to tend to filing court papers and other duties.
Moore said he believes extra money could be found by prioritizing spending. Some have suggested increasing taxes or expanding gambling as ways to raise money for the courts. The chief justice said he opposes those ideas.
Moore said he doesn’t believe raising taxes would solve the problem, and he’s opposed to using gambling as a way to raise money.
“I don’t consider gambling a solution to anything,” he said.
Moore urged the Legislature to work to keep drug courts open. He said those courts keep some drug offenders out of prison.
“Drug courts are doing an excellent job,” Moore said.
Moore was elected to his first term in 2000 and took office in 2001. He was removed from office in 2003 for refusing a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building.