The judicial branch budget is a very small part of the overall budget for California state government. Only one penny of every general fund dollar goes to the courts. For each fiscal year, which begins July 1, the budget process begins the prior January.
Begins with the Governor
The State Constitution requires the Governor to submit a balanced budget to the Legislature on January 10 of each year. Click for a summary of the Governor's budget information.
Legislature and Governor finalize the budget
The Governor's budget is revised in May. The Constitution requires the Legislature to adopt a balanced budget by June 15. The Governor then has 12 working days to sign the budget bill. The Governor also has the authority to reduce or eliminate any item in the budget bill.
Judicial branch budget review process
Once the Legislature has passed and the Governor has signed a state budget, the Trial Court Budget Advisory Committee—a team of 15 superior court judges and 15 court executive officers—reviews the trial courts' portion of the budget and prepares recommendations to the Judicial Council on allocations among the 58 trial courts for the coming fiscal year. An appellate advisory group follows a similar process in reviewing the budgets for the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal. The advisory groups can also direct staff from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to draw up budget change proposals for the next fiscal year.
Judicial Council Review (July or August)
Recommendations for the coming fiscal year and budget proposals for future fiscal years go before the Judicial Council in a business meeting open to the public. The council makes allocations and sets priorities for the branch.
Listen: Budgets: Overview of Fund Types Supporting the Judicial Branch
Sixteen different funding sources come into the Judicial Branch, not including funds generated locally. This audio presentation by the AOC Finance Division to the Judicial Council provides an overview these funding sources and general dollar amounts for each.
Video highlights from council meetings containing details on the budget process are available on the California Courts YouTube channel.