Thursday, January 3, 2019

State of Judiciary Stresses Funding for PASS Programs

Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle presented his State of the Judiciary message to legislators Thursday. In his speech were a few important funding issues. He referenced the 55.5 positions cut last session in response to the budget situation. He told lawmakers the court system is now underwater and he asked for help in regaining footing by adding 6 staff positions and creating one new judgeship. The judge would be added in the South Central Judicial District.  
His speech also focused on bringing attention to the issue of adequate funding for the Public Administrator Support System (PASS) program. Below is an excerpt from his speech on PASS. 

"This is the program created by the legislature in 2013 to provide funding for public administrators. Over the years, public administrators have become the baby no one wants to hold. They serve as the guardians of last resort for those individuals who have no one else to look after them, or who are in the unfortunate position of having family members who are unable, unwilling or not qualified to provide guardianship services. Up until the early 1990s, public administrators were county employees, appointed by the county judge. When the county judge positions were eliminated, many counties also eliminated the public administrator position. Over the years, with no clear statutory determination as to whether the function should be funded by the counties or the state, there was a continual loss of individuals willing to take on those duties. To respond to the ever-growing gap between the need for services and the number of providers available, the legislature created the PASS program. Funding for the program has been in decline since its inception and the program has been forced to rewrite its guidelines several times to reduce the number of cases it can cover and lower the daily payment rate to guardians. An additional 5 percent cut to the PASS program is being proposed this biennium. With guardians having to take more cases without compensation, and a growing list of vulnerable adults waiting for assistance, I am afraid we are in danger of sliding back into the same situation we were in before the program was created."

Governor Burgum delivered his State of the State Address as well on Thursday. We'll have a post summarizing his speech tomorrow. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive