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California’s Top Democrat Requests $5 Billion for Courthouse Improvements

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Aired 4/19/09

The state Senate's top Democrat is pushing for $5 billion in bonds to pay for improvements to courthouses all over the state. The measure will be heard in a key committee Tuesday. From Sacramento, Jenny O'Mara reports.

Overcrowded and in many cases unsafe, Senate President Pro-Tem Don Perata says that's the state of courthouses around California. He's carrying legislation to authorize lease revenue bonds for improvements for around 40 court projects. California Chief Justice Ronald George says courthouse improvements would benefit a large segment of the public. He cited a recent shooting at the court house in Merced as an example of safety concerns.

George : There are also security implications.  You've read about incidents in which people have actually been killed in our courthouses. They should be refuges of safety not places of danger.

 The bonds would be paid for by increases in certain filing fees as well as fines and penalties. The group California Attorneys for Criminal Justice opposes the measure. Its president says those who would pay the increased fines are not those who typically use the courthouse.

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