Proposed Kentucky budget cuts will 'halt' criminal justice system, prosecutor says

Posted at 4:30 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 08:00:16-04

COVINGTON, Ky. -- Gov. Matt Bevin wants most state agencies to slash their budgets by 17 percent, including prosecutors and state police.

Some local commonwealth's attorneys said the proposal will hurt workers and crime victims.

"What that cut means is that the criminal justice system will come to a halt," Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney Michelle Snodgrass said. 

The state wants to cut $8 million from Kentucky prosecutor budgets.

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said there's not enough to cut and authorities would be forced to pick which types of crime they'd be able to prosecute. 

"We've had prosecutors furloughed already before," he said. "Our training budget is zero. Our office supply budget is next to nothing,"

The Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney Office budgets $4,000 for office supplies. They save money by printing on both sides of paper.

Earlier this month, state officials sent a letter to agency leaders, notifying them of a projected $200 million shortfall for fiscal year 2018. 

"I'd lost about 75 percent of my staff," Sanders said. 

And that means victims would have no one to argue their cases, prosecutors said.

"I would ask the governor to talk to the victims of crime here in Campbell County, those people who won't have their day in court," Snodgrass said.

Kentucky has already begun fiscal year 2018, which prosecutors said makes it tough because the cuts are based on money already spent. Many prosecutors are asking for an exemption, but they may not know if they get it until December.