Legislative budget writers moved the needle during their second conference meeting Saturday night, narrowing the discrepancies between House and Senate proposals to just $3.5 million dollars, about 0.1 percent of the $4.1 billion proposed criminal and civil justice budget.
This time it was the Senate’s turn to make an offer, and committee Vice Chairman Sen. Joe Negron took the House’s position on a number of priorities and modified its position on several others.
The Senate amended its proposal to mirror the House’s by including $6.48 million for courthouse improvements and $8.5 million for a state courts trust fund, where a shortfall is expected this year. In exchange, however, they asked the House to remove nearly $6.6 million in funding to upgrade the state’s trial court technology infrastructure.
The chambers agreed on $2 million to purchase doses of the anti-opioid treatment Vivitrol, $1 million for a program to support victims of sex trafficking, and $2.3 million to help reduce the backlog of untested sexual assault kits held by the state.
The Senate has allocated $1 million for property acquisition and planning for a new jail in DeSoto County, which was not included in the House’s first offer Saturday morning.
The House Justice Appropriations/Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations will next meet at noon Sunday, according to an announcement by committee Chairman Rep. Larry Metz.