CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Senate President Mitch Carmichael calls a fiscal note from the state Supreme Court on the cost of a new intermediate appeals court “comical.”
The note, first reported by MetroNews on Tuesday, puts the cost of the court at $11.7 million the first year and $10.3 million each year after that.
“No way am I buying that,” Carmichael told MetroNews “Talkline” Host Hoppy Kercheval Wednesday. “I’m not even steamed or mad about it. It’s comical. This is a ridiculous proposal to say that this court is going to cost $12 million for six judges?”
The Supreme Court said the cost of the new court created in the bill (SB 341), which is currently before the Senate Finance Committee, would seem to have more costs than benefits. The fiscal note came from Supreme Court Administrator Gary Johnson.
Carmichael said it should only cost $3 to $4 million a year to run the intermediate court.
“By comparison, we run the entire state Senate here with all the employees, all the senators, all of this other material we have to do for less than $8 million,” Carmichael said. “You’re going to tell me that for six judges it’s going to be $12 million?”
Carmichael said the fiscal note includes a projected $600,000 for furniture. Carmichael called it an “irresponsible number.” He said that’s probably not surprising considering what the Supreme Court spent on furniture the last few years.
Meanwhile, Carmichael said the Senate will be considering a proposed resolution this session that brings the state Supreme Court’s funding under the control of the legislature.
“I will not relent in any way from taking the Supreme Court’s budget and putting it under the control of the people of West Virginia. So we will be pushing that amendment very hard,” he said.
The Supreme Court, which traditionally has not wanted an intermediate court, concluded in the fiscal note that the investment is likely not worthwhile.
“Given that the Supreme Court of Appeals now offers an appeal to all who request it and provides a written decision in every case, and does so with minimal delay, it would seem that the benefits of the bill are outweighed by its substantial costs,” the Supreme Court wrote in a memo at the bottom of the fiscal note.