Strickland gets help from funding panel

St Johns County Clerk of Court Cheryl Strickland received good news yesterday after a legislative panel approved an additional $29.5 million in funding for Florida’s Clerks of Court, undoing a budget cut that had already caused layoffs and delays at offices across the state.

With minimal discussion, the Legislative Budget Commission unanimously approved a budget amendment that would allow the clerks to spend funds from the Clerks of the Court Trust Fund.

The change mostly reverses a 7 percent cut lawmakers handed down during the legislative session earlier this year.

Clerks had warned that the reduction would lead to layoffs and shorter office hours — something that would cause delays in court matters ranging from foreclosures to divorces to small claims.

The cuts were pushed in the last legislative session by House budget-writers, who didn’t object to Thursday’s change by the joint House-Senate panel.

Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, noted after the meeting that the vote was a chance to get closer to the upper chamber’s recommendation that the clerks not take a cut in 2012.

“It wasn’t possible to get to that position during conference (budget negotiations),” he said.

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