Chief Judge sues county board over budget cuts

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- More than two months after the county passes a budget to solve the nearly seven million budget deficit, the judicial courts say these cuts are too high.

Winnebago County Chairman Frank Haney says the nearly $550,000 in cuts to the Probation Department, Circuit Court, and Public Defender, as well as the nearly $350,000 in cuts to the Detention Home budget were necessary to solve the nearly $7 milion budget deficit.

"At a time, we've made cuts to other departments, in fact almost every other departments, including the Sheriff's Department He's saying that he's taking his piece off the field and it can't be considered, and that's just simply not reality," says Haney.

However, Winnebago County Chief Judge Joseph McGraw is issuing an administrative order, saying these cuts would not allow the courts to keep meeting their constitutional responsibilities.

Judge McGraw is ordering the county continue paying the salaries of all Circuit Court, Probation, and Detention staff positions from the 2017 budget, that they continue paying the salaries of all Public Defender staff positions from the 2017 budget, and that they don't pass anything that would make the previous requirements ineffective.

Haney believes McGraw is overstepping his power.

"I can't be a judge and a County Board member, neither can he. You can't be the chairman and a county board member either, there's a separation, and that's how it should be."

It's an ongoing lawsuit at this time, so County Board Chairman Frank Haney says they are having discussions with the court to decide what their next steps will be.