The proposed fiscal year 2012 budget rolled out by Washington Mayor Vincent Gray on Friday includes cuts of about $700,000 for the office of the attorney general. If approved, the cuts would represent less than 1% of the office's overall budget, and include a loss of 16 full-time positions.
Gray's proposed budget does not touch on funding for local courts; unlike court systems in other states, the federal government, not the city, handles funding for Washington's local courts. Gray’s budget would close the city’s $322 million deficit through $187 million in across-the-board cuts and $135 million in revenue increases.
The attorney general’s office employs about 350 attorneys and 350 other administrative and professional staff. Under the proposed cuts, the child support enforcement division would lose five full-time positions, going from 205 to 200 positions, and the civil litigation division would also lose five full-time positions, mostly from its equity litigation section, going from 133 to about 128 positions. The budget doesn’t specify whether personnel positions cut would be attorneys or other staff.
The rest of the personnel cuts would be spread throughout the office, including a loss of two full-time positions from the legal counsel section, which advises the mayor’s office and other agencies. Other spending cuts would come from office operations.
The attorney general’s office has declined to comment of the proposed budget. But Steven Anderson, president of the union representing office attorneys, said he is generally pleased with proposed cuts for the office. He said that through natural attrition, it might be possible for the office to make the necessary cuts without furloughs or layoffs.
“We’ve had a few furloughs, but we’ve been able to convince [former mayor Adrien] Fenty and now Gray that this is the wrong place to cut,” he said in a phone interview Monday.
In previous testimony before the city council, Acting Attorney General Irvin Nathan has said his cost-cutting plans also include reaching out to law firms for pro bono assistance and pushing for settlements, when possible.
The two city agencies that handle judicial nominations and oversight went completely unscathed. Funding for the Judicial Nomination Commission, which recommends judicial appointments to the White House for D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Courts of Appeals, stayed steady at $205,000; funding for the Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure also stayed the same, at $295,000. Both commissions saw a bump in funding the previous year.
The full budget is available for review here.