House Budget 'Exercise' Worries Public Defenders

Feb 15, 2017

Republican House leaders say it’s just a budget-cutting exercise, but the head of the Florida Public Defenders Association isn’t convinced.

The Florida Public Defenders Association is warning a 10 percent budget cut would force layoffs.

Pinellas County Public Defender Bob Dillinger warns the 10 percent target House members are using would cost his office 1.7 million dollars and force 30 layoffs.

“Since 2002, there’s been 2.2, or 2.4 billion in tax cuts, and they’re proposing more tax cuts while I’m being told to cut my already thin staff. That’s painful.”

Dillinger’s 220-member staff serves Pinellas and Pasco Counties in the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

State economists forecast lawmakers will have just 7 million new dollars to work with as they craft an 80 billion dollar budget, but House Speaker Richard Corcoran is anticipating shortfalls.