Statement by Senator Stratton Taylor,
Senate President Pro Tempore
"All I've done is ask the District Attorney's Council to start thinking about budget priorities. Because we have limited funding, I wanted to know what it thought was a more pressing budget priority: the $3 million for Terry Nichols' trial and defense bills or salary increases for assistant district attorneys. Many members of the Legislature have expressed frustration about the situation and wanted some direction from the DA's Council. Certainly, no one enjoys making tough decisions like that, but at some point, we have to start asking questions about priorities."
"Unfortunately, we don't have a bottomless pit of money and that means we're going to have to make some difficult choices, just as we do every year at the Legislature. Last year, for example, Governor Keating and a bipartisan Legislature approved legislation that withdrew state funding from the Nichols' trial. One year later, the trial is still moving forward, racking up legal bills that will ultimately drain another $3 million from the state coffers. Meanwhile, the District Attorney's Council is lobbying for a pay raise for assistant district attorneys. In a world of limited resources, something has to give."
"I personally would like to put the assistant DA's salaries at the top of the priority list, but in light of the tight budget situation, it will be difficult to do that and fund the Nichols' trial. That's why input from the DA's Council is important. I'm certain that once the DA's Council has had an opportunity to think about it, it will provide us with some guidance on this issue."
"I have always been a strong supporter of the district attorneys. I have helped them in the past, such as when I lead the fight for their pay raise last year, and will continue to do so in the future."