February 1, 2004 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Bush wants more judges, court funds Bush wants more judges, court funds Senior Editor Florida’s courts would get 40 new trial judges and more than $100 million to carry out Revision 7 to Article V of the Florida Constitution, under the 2004-05 budget proposed by Gov. Jeb Bush.The governor also called for budget and staff increases for state attorneys and public defenders, although not as much as either group wanted.Bush released his $55 billion budget on January 20 that included some tax cuts, some increases for some state programs, and $477 million of cuts for others.According to the Governor’s Office, Bush has earmarked a total of $223 million for Revision 7. That includes $102.6 million for state courts and $120.4 million for state attorneys, public defenders, private attorneys’ fees in criminal and dependency cases, due process legal costs, and other related costs.Significant to State Courts Administrator Lisa Goodner is that none of Bush’s proposed cuts fell in the state’s judicial system, which endured reductions for the past two tight fiscal years.“That for us is significant,” she said. “We’re really having a tough year after last year.”Comparing the budget numbers between 2003-04 and 2004-05 isn’t easy for several of reasons. For one, the guardian ad litem program has been transferred from the courts to the Justice Administrative Commission. Some other programs, including juror expenses, also were shifted.But those were more than offset by Revision 7, passed by voters in 1998. Revision 7 mandated that the state take over from the counties substantially more funding of the county and circuit courts, no later than July 1, 2004. The Constitution Revision Commission, which proposed the amendment, envisioned that the funding transfer would be phased in. But because of budget problems and other priorities, the legislature left virtually all of the funding shift until this year.Goodner and Sixth Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer, chair of the Trial Court Budget Commission, said the courts asked for an additional $170 million to comply with Revision 7 requirements. After adjustments for the programs transferred from the courts like GAL and allowing for the Supreme Court’s requested 88 new judges plus assistants, the total court budget request was $454.1 million.Bush is recommending $370.2 million, of which $102.6 million is for Revision 7 costs.Last year, the courts got $277.8 million, with little or none of that related to Revision 7 costs.Schaeffer and Goodner pointed out the extra money isn’t a windfall for the courts; rather it’s money that used to be paid by the counties but will now be assumed by the state. And it’s still possible that much of the $70 million not included in the governor’s budget could become a legislative mandate for the counties to finance. Counties, under the amendment, still remain responsible for some costs, such as providing office space.Overall, Schaeffer said she was generally pleased with Bush’s proposals, calling some differences a matter of philosophy.“I am very appreciative that the governor included a substantial amount of new money for the trial courts due to Revision 7,” Schaeffer said. “There are some places where there are certainly room for differences. As long as we get some acknowledgment that expense dollars will be fully provided, we’ll be satisfied.”One major difference is the TCBC request that one law clerk be provided for each circuit judge, instead of one for every three judges, Schaeffer noted. That would have required 343 new positions and $28.4 million. The governor’s budget did not include any of the new law clerks.Not getting them will not substantially hurt court operations, Schaeffer said, but having more clerks would make for more optimum courts.Similarly, the TCBC requested that $12 million be set aside for unanticipated contingencies when the state takes over its increased share of trial court funding, she said. The governor recommended $5 million. But Schaeffer said there is a realization by both parties that no matter how careful the planning there will be unforeseen expenses in the funding transfer. “If that contingency runs out, we’ll be asking for additional appropriations,” the judge said.The TCBC also asked for $7 million for technology to help the courts communicate from one circuit to another. The governor didn’t include any of that in his proposed budget, but Schaeffer said there is still considerable contention between the legislature and the counties whether counties are responsible for those costs.The TCBC also included $13 million for “expense” dollars, or the basic amount required to support each court employee with equipment, furniture, and other such overhead costs. The governor provided $2.3 million, but again, Schaeffer said the counties could be required to make up much of those costs especially since much is related to providing office space. “As far as we’re concerned, as long as between the counties and the state the expense dollars are fully funded, that’s okay with us,” she said.The governor’s budget also fully funded TCBC recommendations for case management services which help the courts process cases. That’s very positive, Schaeffer said.But the biggest failing, according to both Goodner and Schaeffer, is the budget will not bring equal court services to circuits throughout the state, which was a primary goal of Revision 7.“The revision said that across the board, all counties and all circuits should have adequate funding. The real reason for Revision 7 is there were some counties and circuits where the tax base was very low or they were at the 10-mill cap [on property taxes]. Consequently courts in those counties and/or circuits were funded at a less than adequate level,” Schaeffer said. “The Trial Court Budget Commission made sure [in its proposed budget] that all circuits had an adequate funding base and, therefore, regardless of where a citizen lived, he or she would have access to the basic court services.”But the governor’s budget, while it picked up funding that the counties had been paying for the courts, didn’t correct the inequities. Courts that have had a relatively high level of county funding will get more money from the state than courts that had relatively little county funding.Schaeffer said she’s particularly concerned that smaller circuits may not get adequate court administration money to deal with, as of July 1, the purchasing, payroll, and other services that have been provided by counties.The courts are pleased the governor proposed 40 new judges, although that’s less than the 88 judges certified by the Supreme Court, Schaeffer said. Bush proposed 20 new circuit and 20 new county judges. The court was seeking four district court of appeal, 51 circuit, and 33 county judges. Last year, the court asked for 56 new judges, but none were approved.Schaeffer said under the proposed budget, half of the judges would start in January while the other half would take office in April. A total of $3.7 million was earmarked for the judges and their assistants.Adding the new judges is a different situation from the Revision 7 funding, Schaeffer said, adding she doesn’t want legislators to see that as an either/or situation. “I think just by the mere fact he put some new judges in the budget shows the governor recognizes there is a need for funding new judges.Goodner said the budget includes 17.5 new positions for her office to deal with extra duties when former county employees become state employees with the Revision 7 changes.Also included were all of the building maintenance requests for the Supreme Court and the district courts of appeal, as well as a new truck for the Supreme Court that was vetoed from last year’s appropriations bill.“I think we are at a good beginning point for the negotiations with the legislature for this [Revision 7] implementation,” Goodner said. “I hope we can demonstrate and convince them of the need for additional resources beyond the base the governor has set.”State attorneys and public defenders would see higher budgets statewide under Bush’s spending plan.For 2003-04, state attorneys were budgeted at $313 million and had 5,531.75 employees. They requested $372.2 million and 6,045.75 employees, but Bush is recommending $335.4 million and 5,693.25 employees.Seond Circuit State Attorney Willie Megge, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, said the governor’s budget addresses Revision 7 needs for state atotrneys. State attorneys, though, still have three goals of restoring cuts made since the Septaer 11, 2001, terror attacks caused tighter budgets, improving salaries for staff attorneys, and raising pay for support staff.“We’re at a good starting point,” Meggs said. “We’ll work on those other things [with the legislature].”Public defenders had $145.3 million and 2,504.25 employees for the current year, and requested $202.3 million and 3,180.75 employees for next year. Bush is proposing $165.3 million and 2,656.75 employees. Second Circuit Public Defender Nancy Daniels, president of the Florida Public Defender Association, said the governor’s increase picks up employees who had been paid for by counties, but doesn’t add any new staff.She also praised the budget for including due process costs the state is taking over from the counties. But she said while the budget has $7 million for that, public defenders estimate the expense could be as high as $50 million.Public defender appellate operations, funded this year at 180.75 positions and $13 million, would stay the same with a $250,000 budget increase under the proposed budget. Public defenders had asked for 235.75 positions and $17 million.The two remaining Captial Collateral Regional Counsel offices — which represent death row inmates in collateral appeals — are in the budget with the same staffing levels of 69 and expenditures of $7.2 million. Last year, Bush recommended doing away with all three regional offices and replacing them with private attorneys who have signed up in a state registry. The legislature agreed to close one office as an experiment to see if using the private attorneys saved money. That move is still being studied.The budget also did not include any money for the Civil Legal Assistance Act, which got $1.5 million in the 2003-04 budget.
Making his first appearance since impressing at Gowran Park in November, the seven-year-old grey was the 9-10 market leader to see off three talented opponents in the Listed feature. Davy Russell sent his mount straight to the lead and for much of the two-and-a-quarter-mile journey his jumping was assured. His task was made easier when the improving Avant Tout crashed out three fences from the finish, but he made a mess of the next fence himself. However, Smashing soon recomposed himself and was good value for his five-length victory over Tennis Cap, with Nearly Nama’d last of three finishers. Russell was replacing Jonathan Burke in the saddle after he was stood down for the day following a fall in the opening race. “Its a shame Johnny missed the ride and hopefully he’ll be OK, but Davy was a great sub and gave him a great ride,” said De Bromhead. “I was delighted with the way he did it, apart from the last two, but it was a competitive race. We’ve waited for the race since Christmas and I’m delighted we did wait as it was cancelled twice. “We’ll look at the options, but the Ryanair Chase looks a bit steep. I ran him in the wrong race last year in the Arkle, as he was lost on the better ground. “He had previously finished fourth in the Coral Cup and I might look at the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase (at Cheltenham). “The handicaps at Cheltenham are almost like conditions chases now and we’ll stick to either Grade Twos or Threes or handicaps.” Russell went on to secure a treble on the afternoon, scoring aboard Jimmy Mangan’s Montys Meadow (5-2) in the Rock Of Cashel (C & G) Beginners Chase before completing his hat-trick on 14-1 shot Mr Eko in the Templemore Handicap Chase. Mangan said of his winner: “He deserved that and Davy said he’d have gone round again. “This is definitely not a bad horse and has speed and stamina. Davy said he did quicken today and three miles will also be no problem for him. “I’ll wait for next year before running him in those big handicaps and will look for a winners of one next. “I’ll also look for black type seeing as I bred him and have the mare; I might make a few bob for myself!” Carrigmoorna Rock proved too good for Uranna in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase. The betting suggested the two-and-a-half-mile heat was a match and that was the way it proved, with Robert Tyner’s 7-4 chance coming home two and a quarter lengths clear of 11-8 favourite Uranna. Tyner said: “She didn’t do a whole lot out in front but she was helped by the other horse’s (Uranna) mistake at the second-last. “After riding in the first race Phillip (Enright) said the ground was very tough and she seemed to travel better when she got a bit of light on the better ground on the outer. “She’s probably the first mare to win three of those 5,000 euro bonuses (mares’ bumper, mares’ maiden hurdle and mares’ beginners chase) and she could come back here in a fortnight for a winners’ race. “The graded race at Limerick in March is her aim and she also has a preference for nice ground.” Henry de Bromhead’s Smashing survived a late scare to reward favourite-backers in the Thurles Racecourse Supporters Club Chase. Press Association
In the Match Day 18 of the Southern Conference of the Nigerian National League, former premier league sides, Crown of Ogbomosho and Heartland FC played a goalless draw in their Wednesday encounter.In other encounters of the conference, First Bank of Lagos won their home match, 3-1 against Gateway United of Abeokuta, while Warri Wolves playing at home beat Nnewi United 2-0. Other results are: The Northern Conference is still in Match Day 14. On Wednesday, FC Abuja played a 1-1 draw with former premier league side, Kwara United. In another encounter, FC Zamfara beat Kaduna United, 2-1 while Sokoto United lost 2-0 away to Adamawa United.The Jalingo tie with homers FC Taraba and Kogi United could not hold because of heavy rainfall.The match is rescheduled for this morning. Also, FRSC FC of Abuja will engage visiting Jigawa Golden Stars.RESULTSCrown 0-0 Heartland1st Bank 3-1 GatewayWâ€™Wolves 2-0 Nnewi UtdDelta Force 1 â€“ 0 Go â€“ RoundBendel Insurance 2- 0 Ikorodu UtdBayelsa Utd 2 â€“ 0 My People.AS Racines 1 â€“ 1 Osun UtdAkwa Starlets 2 -0 Papillo FCAbia Comets 3 â€“ 0 UNICEM RoversFC Abuja 1-1 Kwara UtdFC Zamfara 2-1 Kaduna UtdSokoto Utd 0-2 Adamawa UtdFC Taraba v Kogi United (postponed)Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram