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Gov's Budget Provision Would Cut Funding for Online Court Records

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MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - One of the state’s most popular programs could be jeopardized by the governor’s next budget.

Governor Scott Walker wants to end the automatic funding mechanism for the state’s computerized court records.

Right now, the Consolidated Court Automation Program gets $6 of every $21.50 in court filing fees. But under Walker’s next budget, the Administration Department would get all the fee revenue – and the funding for the court records would be slashed by 10 percent.

Program spokeswoman Jean Bousquet said that if the current fee revenue goes to other programs, the circuit court records might be the first to suffer. She said any cuts would be gradual. For instance, new information might be filed once a day instead of as it happens.

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said Walker’s funding cut would jeopardize the computerized court records – and she has urged the Joint Finance Committee to keep the present funding in place. She said the entire justice system would not function as smoothly without a strong record-keeping system.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says the claims made by Abrahamson are not true – and the 10 percent funding cut is in line with other agencies. The state’s Internet court records get up to 3 million hits a day.

Bill Lueders of the state’s Freedom of Information Council says it would be more expensive to do away with even some computerized court records. He says court clerks would have to spend more time answering phone inquiries about cases.

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