Budget conference: Senate wants to expand Harry and Harriette Justice Center
Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Justice Center. Image via 18th Judicial Circuit.

Chambers remain millions apart on courthouse funding.

Senate budget negotiators are still trying to cajole millions from the House to expand a Brevard County courthouse

The latest offer from the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee includes $5.5 million for the expansion of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Justice Center.

The Viera courthouse is part of the 18th Judicial Circuit court system. The facility is named for the influential civil rights advocates who were killed in a bombing at their Brevard County home in 1951. Harry Moore was the Executive Director of the Florida NAACP.

The expansion of the judicial center is one of several differences remaining between the House and Senate plans for courthouse spending.

The House continues to desire $9 million for the Bernie McCabe 2nd District Court of Appeal in St. Petersburg. Judges in January implored lawmakers for that much, but the Senate to date has judged the project unworthy.

House appropriators also want $2 million to replace the roof at the Polk County Courthouse.

The upper chamber has agreed to annex improvements for the Hardee County courthouse, costing $850,000.

On the personnel front, the House would like to eliminate three and a half vacant positions within the court system to free up about $295,000. The Senate doesn’t want to cut those posts.

Meanwhile, House budget negotiators want more than $912,000 for “problem solving courts funding” that the Senate doesn’t include in its budget.

While the most recent Senate offer provides more than $6.1 million for critical due processing resources, the House wants twice that amount.

Budget conference subcommittees will meet throughout the week to resolve differences in each area. When remaining issues reach an impasse, they will be “bumped” to the full budget conference committee.

Lawmakers must reach an agreement on a final spending plan by May 2 to meet the 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget to avoid pushing the Regular Session past its scheduled May 5 end date.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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