Trim the state budget, cut … the state supreme court?

Cutting four jobs in state government might not seem like it would be a tremendous cost savings to taxpayers. But, what if these are the highest paid elected state employees (along with the governor) in Washington?

Three Republican state senators have introduced a bill in Olympia that would cut the state’s supreme court from nine justices to five, the Associated Press reported last week.

From AP:

The measure, introduced Wednesday, would require the current nine justices to draw straws. The four who draw the shortest straws “shall be terminated, and those judges shall not serve the remainder of their respective unexpired terms.”

Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane points out the state’s constitution only mandates we have five justices.

But the effort comes (suspiciously) following the high court’s ruling that voter-approved initiatives requiring the legislature to have a supermajority to pass tax increases is unconstitutional.

More from AP:

 Supreme Court justices earn more than $164,000 a year. Baumgartner said that by reducing the court, you also reduce salaries that need to be paid to their clerks and other staffers.

“There’s a lot of school teachers you could hire with these salaries,” he said.

Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale and Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake have signed on to the bill, a well.

Just doing the straight math here: that would be a savings of $656,000 a year. Do you think this is a good idea in any way or perhaps a veiled effort to get back at the court?

 

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