4:20 am
Wed December 10, 2008

Prosecutors Brace for Cuts

Paducah, KY – McCracken County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Kaltenbach says if Governor Steve Beshear's proposed cuts are actually implemented, state prosecutors would be facing the worst budget situation he's seen during his 18-year tenure. Carrie Pond has more.

------------------------------------------------------------- Commonwealth's Attorneys have asked for an exemption from Governor Beshear's request to cut operations by 4 percent. Kaltenbach says because the fiscal year is half over, a 4 percent reduction would actually translate into a 13 and a half percent cut in staff salaries. He says last week the Prosecutor's Advisory Council gave attorneys three options on how to make the cuts- laying off staff members, using forfeiture money from prosecuted drug cases, or putting employees on periods of unpaid leave. He says of the three, the only viable choice is employee furloughs, but that coupled with an ever-growing number of cases leaves prosecutors with very little wiggle room.

"We may have to ask the courts to delay cases for a short period of time, and obviously we'll have less time to devote to the cases that we are prosecuting."Kaltenbach says in the past budget cuts haven't been as severe as lawmakers originally predicted, and he's hoping that will be the case this time. But prosecutors are already having trouble keeping up with case loads, and Kaltenbach says if next year's budget is as bad as predicted, it would seriously undermine prosecutors' efficiency.