Budget a mixed bag for courts, PDs, and state attorneys

first_img Budget a mixed bag for courts, PDs, and state attorneys Senior Editor With final budget estimates being received shortly after the 2004 Florida Legislature convened, state court system officials have begun getting preliminary 2004-05 budget figures from the House and Senate.It’s a very mixed picture.Sixth Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission, said the Senate budget writers have come up with a good budget for circuit and county courts. But the House, she said, has done an outstanding job.Second Circuit Public Defender Nancy Daniels, president of the Florida Public Defender Association, has the opposite sensation. She’s happy with the Senate budget proposal, but the House version makes deep cuts in public defenders’ personnel and due process costs.Second Circuit State Attorney Willie Meggs, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said the prosecutors are disappointed that none of the $19 million they wanted to improve staff pay is in either House or Senate budgets. “It’s kind of frustrating when they find $1.2 billion dollars [in unexpected state revenues] and they come out with their budgets and the state attorneys of Florida get nothing,” he said.This is a critical budget year for court-related agencies as the legislature complies with the Revision 7 constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998. The amendment requires the state to assume much more funding of the trial court system — including for prosecutors and public defenders — from counties, no later than July 1.The amendment envisioned the legislature would phase in the budget changes, but because of tight fiscal years and other priorities, virtually all of the funding shift has been left until this year.The Trial Court Budget Commission estimated because of Revision 7, the state would have to come up with $170 million to replace county expenditures and to meet the amendment’s goal of having equal services throughout the state.Schaeffer said Gov. Jeb Bush proposed about $103 million extra; the initial Senate draft has about $113.5 million; and the House Budget has $141 million. The main difference between the TCBC request and the House proposal is $28.8 million for additional law clerks for circuit court judges. The courts are willing to concede that while the extra clerks would be nice, it’s not necessarily a strict Revision 7 issue and can be addressed in future years, Schaeffer said.If the budget transition had actually occurred over six years, the governor’s budget is at about year two; the Senate is between year three and four, while the House is at the finished product, she said.“I want to thank Speaker [Johnnie] Byrd, R-Lakeland, Rep. [Bruce] Kyle, R-Ft. Myers [chair of the Appropriations Committee], and Rep. [Joe] Negron, R-Stuart, [chair of the subcommittee that oversees judicial appropriations]. This was put together in that chain of command,” Schaeffer said. “I think those leaders had the vision to understand what the amendment to the constitution said and they did what it said.”The Senate Subcommittee on Article V Implementation and Judiciary did the best it could with the money allocated to it by Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville, Schaeffer said. The main difference between the House and Senate budgets, she said, is the Senate has little money for mediation, arbitration, hearing officers and masters, and ensuring equity between services among the various circuits.Daniels said priorities were getting state funding for 132 positions in public defender offices that had been funded by counties and paying for due process costs, which were figured at around $22 million.The Senate budget picks up those county-paid positions and has $22 million for due process, she said. The governor’s budget also picked up the county-paid employees and had $7 million for due process, although officials conceded that number would need to be raised when final figures were in.The House budget, however, has much less money.Daniels said the House has only $14 million for due process costs, which might mean that money would run out before the end of the budget year.Of the 132 county-paid positions, the House fiscal plan envisions only picking up 50 of those posts. Plus it would cut 58 administrative positions — mostly receptionists — and 48 technology support jobs.“That’s 172 less people that we would have on our staffs statewide. That’s not a pretty picture,” Daniels said. “The House budget really cuts us to shreds.”Overall, the Senate budget picks up $38 million in costs from the counties, while the House picks up only $21 million.“At this point, unless there’s substantial movement on the House budget and the [budget] conference brings us some relief in due process and excessive caseload positions and administration and technology, we would be devastated,” Daniels said.Meggs said state attorneys think figures have ranged between $20 and $33 million on the costs the state must pick up from the counties for state attorney operations. The best guess is $22 million and it looks like most of that has been included.What has state attorneys disappointed is their priority package of improvements, which carry a $19 million price tag. That would accomplish three things, Meggs said: Replace $7 million in cuts made because of tight budgets in the wake of 9/11; add $9 million to equalize pay among assistant state attorneys; and provide better pay for support personnel.“What we got in the Senate budget was nothing, and what we got in the House budget was equal to the Senate budget,” he said. “We’re working with them and they tell us they may come up with something.”The pay issue, he said, is to address inequities that resulted from a recent law mandating that new assistant state attorneys be paid at least $36,900. The problem is prosecutors hired in the years before the change are at substantially lower salaries, and even with raises these prosecutors still are not up to $36,900. That means more experienced prosecutors are making less than new hires, and that only adds to the turnover problems brought about by low pay, Meggs said.“We lose people to private practice, we lose our people here in Tallahassee to state government. . . we lose people to the legislature,” he said. “Why can they pay more than we pay to retain good lawyers?”The pay incentives for support staff were for the same reason, Meggs said. Secretaries, investigators, and others have had little but minimal annual raises and often leave for better paying jobs elsewhere.At Bar News deadline, there was no indication when each chamber would take up their final budgets. April 1, 2004 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Budget a mixed bag for courts, PDs, and state attorneyslast_img read more

Man Utd move closer to UCL spot after West Ham draw

first_img But teenage forward Greenwood struck after the interval to lift United into third place in the Premier League. United are ahead of fourth placed Chelsea on goal difference, but the Blues would regain third if they avoid defeat against champions Liverpool later on Wednesday night. Regardless of the result at Anfield, United will finish in the top four if they draw or win in their decisive showdown with fifth placed Leicester on Sunday.United are one point ahead of Leicester going into their last game of the season at the King Power Stadium.Solskjaer’s team were well below their best against West Ham, but they are now unbeaten in 13 league matches and will complete an impressive surge into the Champions League if they emerge unscathed at Leicester. Manchester United moved closer to qualifying for the Champions League as Mason Greenwood rescued a 1-1 draw against West Ham on Wednesday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell behind to Michail Antonio’s penalty in the first half at Old Trafford.Advertisement They can also qualify for Europe’s elite club competition if they win the Europa League in August.Solskjaer will have been relieved there were no costly mistakes from David De Gea after the United keeper retained his place.The Spaniard made two embarrassing errors that led to goals in United’s 3-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea on Sunday.But De Gea has started every league game since Solskjaer took charge and the United manager backed him in a pre-match interview, saying: “Form might be temporary but class is permanent is that saying and he’s an absolutely top keeper.”West Ham’s point ensured they are mathematically certain to avoid relegation.Beaten for the first time in 20 matches in all competitions at the weekend, United had no time to sulk as they looked to secure that lucrative Champions League berth.United knew draws against West Ham and Leicester would be enough to secure a top four finish.After their sluggish show at Wembley, Solskjaer’s men made a more enterprising start this time and West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was tested twice inside the first four minutes.Anthony Martial’s stinging strike from just inside the penalty area forced an excellent save from Fabianski, who then plunged to his right to keep out Greenwood’s effort.Rashford tried his luck from 30 yards, but the forward’s powerful drive was too close to Fabianski, while Greenwood’s close-range shot was blocked by Ogbonna.De Gea had been a spectator for the first 40 minutes and when he was finally called into action, Antonio’s header lacked the power to trouble him.But De Gea still had to pick the ball out of the net moments before half-time after Paul Pogba handed West Ham a penalty.Declan Rice’s free-kick was smashed straight at Pogba, who instinctively stuck up his arms to protect his face.Despite Pogba dropping to the turf as though he had been hit in the head, VAR confirmed the France midfielder’s handball.Antonio took the spot-kick, sending De Gea the wrong way for his sixth goal in his last three games.United had let the first half drift out of their control, but Greenwood dragged them level with another demonstration of his remarkable maturity in the 51st minute.Dropping deep to exchange passes with Martial, the 18-year-old kept his composure to drill a clinical finish past Fabianski from 12 yards. Read Also: Chelsea ponder move for Barcelona shot-stopperNo teenager has ever scored more goals in a single season in all competitions for United than Greenwood, whose 17th of the season moved him level with George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney.With Bruno Fernandes unable to exert his usual influence, United fell away after Greenwood’s goal and De Gea made a superb tip-over from Jarrod Bowen’s venomous blast before Rice shot narrowly wide from 25 yards.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… Promoted ContentCan Playing Too Many Video Games Hurt Your Body?6 Incredibly Strange Facts About Hurricanes2020 Tattoo Trends: Here’s What You’ll See This Year6 Extreme Facts About HurricanesA Hurricane Can Be As Powerful As 10 Atomic Bombs8 Superfoods For Growing Hair Back And Stimulating Its Growth7 Train Stations In The World You Wish To Stay At Longer18 Cities With Neverending Tourist-FlowPlaying Games For Hours Can Do This To Your BodyTV Characters Who Hated Each Other But Later Became Friends6 Ridiculous Health Myths That Are Actually TrueCouples Who Celebrated Their Union In A Unique, Unforgettable Waylast_img read more