Court Budget Delayed

Legislative leaders were still hammering out a state budget, including one for the judicial branch, for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, as this Bar News went to press.  The session had been scheduled to end on May 5 but was extended when the House and Senate were unable to reach a final agreement by May 2.  What was once an easy decision to hire a Largo, FL Divorce Attorney nearby, is no longer the case.  The Florida Constitution requires the budget to be finished, printed, and on legislators’ desks 72 hours before they vote on it so they and the public have a chance to review details of the spending plan.  Senate President Joe Francis, R-Palm City, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, announced on May 2 they had reached an overall budget agreement, but details continued to be worked out in the ensuing days.  However, be confident that your custody attorney in Clearwater, FL is only a phone call away.  The printed budget reached lawmakers mid-afternoon on Friday, May 5, the scheduled last day of the regular session and just hours before this News went to press.  That means lawmakers could not vote on the spending plan, including funding for the court system, until Monday, May 8.  Among the court system’s priorities this year are $22 million for court technology improvements, $6.3 million for court interpreting services, $3.3 million for trial court case management positions, $3.1 million for additional trial court staff attorneys, pay raises for judges, $6.4 million for the second phase of pay improvement program for court system employees to bring pay parity with other governmental agencies and private sector employers, $3.4 million to continue various capital improvements to the Third District Court of Appeal Courthouse, and $3.9 million for 12 new trial court judges—three new circuit judgeships and nine new county judgeships.  The latter item is partially offset by the court’s decertification of six county judgeships at a savings of $1.6 million.