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Joint Legislative Budget Commission

State surplus money ‘gone’ because of Irma

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The Legislature’s chief economist has told lawmakers that next year’s relatively tiny budget surplus will be erased because of costs from Hurricane Irma. Amy Baker, director of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, presented a working version of the state’s long-range financial outlook to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission on Friday. She explained that extra costs to the state from last year’s hurricanes, Hermine and Matthew, cost $76.2 million, meaning a projected $52 million surplus for fiscal year 2018-19 is “gone.”

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Hurricane no boon to state budget

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Hurricane Irma could extend her destructive reach to the next state budget. A long-range financial report, which will be reviewed Friday by the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, shows lawmakers working with only a projected $52 million surplus as they craft the 2018-19 budget early next year. It’s a fiscal pittance in an overall $82 billion budget.

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Court clerks funding case continues in capital

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A lawsuit over how the state funds its clerks of court is still trudging along in Tallahassee, court dockets show. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers set a case management conference for Sept. 7, after lawyers for plaintiff Howard Forman alerted the court of possible “additional or substituted parties.”

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DEP responds to House records request, defends payment of legal bills

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The state’s Department of Environmental Protection on Friday night released its response to the House of Representatives’ request for documentation of the legal billing in a longstanding river water use fight against Georgia. Interim DEP Secretary Ryan Matthews also sent a letter, saying his agency had “denied more than $3 million in expenses and hourly charges submitted by outside counsel.” A cursory review of the records shows not only invoices for legal fees but also, for example, a $272,000 contract between DEP…

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Richard Corcoran: House won’t OK legal money for DEP

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran late Monday said his chamber won’t agree to hand over any more money for the Department of Environmental Protection to pay its legal bills until the agency gives a full accounting of what’s already been spent. Corcoran was reacting to the DEP’s request to the Joint Legislative Budget Commission for an additional $13 million to pay outside legal counsel in an ongoing court fight between Georgia and Florida over water use. (Earlier story here.) The commission is scheduled to take up the request Tuesday. Coincidentally,…

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“Water war” could cost the state another $13M in legal fees

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water use

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has busted its outside legal expenses budget over the ongoing ‘water war’ between Georgia and Florida, legislative records show. It’s asking for an additional $13 million from the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which meets Tuesday — and even that may not be enough. Gov. Rick Scott‘s office approved the request to the commission, made up of House and Senate members, for “litigation costs.” “This increase is necessary to meet projected expenditures for outside counsel as…

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Lawmakers get grim budget news for next year

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Florida is likely to basically break even next year in terms of its state budget, lawmakers heard Monday. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission met in the Capitol to hear the latest financial outlook for 2017-18: Present income and outgo estimates leave Florida with a relatively scanty $7.5 million left over out of about $32.2 billion in available revenue. The current year’s budget is roughly $82 billion, for example, after Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a total of $256 million in spending. Roughly two-thirds of the yearly…

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