An independent audit finds Florida court clerks are struggling with increased workloads, declining revenue and need increased state funding to keep up.
Rushing said the report concluded that “resources are inadequate to meet the needs of the workload demand” and there is a pressing need for more funding to keep up with rising workloads and declining revenues.
While case filings have fallen, Rushing told the committee that most of the reduction is because there are fewer offenses such as traffic infractions, which bring in more revenue than they use. She also pointed to costly new legislative mandates.
According to LobbyTools, Rushing made several recommendations, including ending a 2008 policy that increased the court fees going into the state’s General Revenue fund instead of back into court operations. That system alone would net about $65 million.
“We ask the Florida Legislature and Governor to support the funding for the current year deficit, as well as enact a long-term solution to the Clerk funding process,” Rushing said in a statement.
Tampa Tribune reporter Jeff Schweers writes that court clerks in Florida face a shortfall of as much as $25.8 million this year.
While the House panel was sympathetic to the clerks’ financial problems, the Senate is recommending $12.9 million in this year’s budget to address the situation.
“Know that many of us members have great concern and empathy for the plight of the clerks and want to see a solution including long-term funding, direct funding, that will help in this situation,” said St. Petersburg Democrat state Rep. Darryl Rouson, the committee’s ranking member.