Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s economy is facing a potential budget deficit of approximately $ 2.7 billion for fiscal year 2021-2022.
In response, Governor Ron DeSantis introduced a six percent annual budget holdback for law enforcement agencies, which includes offices of prosecutors and lawyers, according to Florida Bar News.
What you need to know
- Prosecutor Andrew Warren addressed his budget concerns on Friday
- He urged state lawmakers not to cut the budget of his office
- The legislators do not agree on this issue
Hillsborough County Attorney Andrew Warren says this is going too far.
At a meeting of the Hillsborough County’s Legislative Delegation on Friday, he told lawmakers that he inherited a $ 2 million deficit when he took office four years ago and that he would work hard to balance his budget. Now, with additional deficits due to COVID-19, he said he couldn’t cut any further without removing lawyers from his office. So he put the responsibility on the delegation and asked them directly how they would explain to the public what crimes he could not prosecute if he made those cuts (which he said lawmakers told him were up to 10 could%).
“If we are to cut our budget that much, we need guidance on what types of crimes to stop prosecuting,” Warren said. “Because that way if a victim and parishioners come and say, why don’t you prosecute these crimes? We are all on one side. “
But Warren’s complaints failed to move Lithia-based Republican MP Mike Beltran, an attorney himself, who respectfully disagreed that lawmakers had insufficiently funded the prosecution.
“I will take a 10% budget cut if his office takes a 10% budget cut,” Beltran said, adding that state lawmakers “are the worst paid officials in Hillsborough.”
The state legislature makes $ 29,679 annually working part-time.
“I’ll take it if everyone else wants,” said Beltran. “Then let me know.”
This comment sparked a response from two representatives of the democratic state.
“This is our second job. This is our part time job. We have other forms of income, ”said North Tampa Rep. Fentrice Driskell. “I just want us to be very thoughtful and sensitive as we listen to the needs of the community and these agencies that are having real problems.”
Newly-elected Pinellas County MP Michele Rayner said her first job was working in the Hillsborough County’s office of defense attorney Julianne Holt so she could relate to being a new attorney on a state salary with student loans works to repay itself.
“Remember, while numbers are easy to talk about, there are real people who are hit by budget cuts when they come,” she said.
The budget cuts that Beltran is concerned about are causing “file overload” in Hillsborough County. He noted that the Florida Supreme Court had previously confirmed that the county could hire four additional judges, but lawmakers declined to fund those positions in the latest budget. That decision “has real ramifications for people,” Beltran said.