Supreme Court defends no furloughs decision |

Supreme Court defends no furloughs decision

Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Hardesty defended the court’s decision not to impose furloughs on the court staff, telling lawmakers the court made the necessary budget reductions in other ways.

“I strongly disagree with any suggestion expressed or implied that the court has not complied in the sacrifice,” he said Thursday.

Hardesty said the court exempted itself from furloughs for the first quarter of this fiscal year and, last week, extended that exemption for the second quarter that ends Dec. 31.

Hardesty said if the court can’t create the necessary savings other ways in the future, it will impose furloughs. But he made it clear that is the court’s decision, not the Legislature’s.

“This is not to suggest that the court will not ultimately have to impose furloughs but that is a decision that falls within the judicial branch’s jurisdiction,” he said.

Hardesty told lawmakers the final judicial branch budget was reduced $414,380 to cover the 4.6 percent savings generated by furloughs. He said another $152,483 was cut from non-General Fund accounts in the courts.

He said the Supreme Court has found those savings and more by a variety of internal cuts, salary savings and other reductions.

Since those cuts have already been made, he argued, “furloughing staff would double the cuts made to the judicial branch because of furloughs.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, argued that other agencies have seen much deeper cuts than just 4.6 percent off of salaries. He pointed to higher education, which was cut 12.5 percent overall before the furloughs were imposed, and the Department of Cultural Affairs, which had more than 25 percent taken out of its budgets.

Hardesty said the courts saw similar reductions, making 14 percent operational cuts in addition to the furlough reductions.

He said the issue will be revisited every quarter and decided in a public hearing.