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The Seven Principles for Funding Stability

The need for sufficient and stable funding of Florida’s court system is a constant one.  But now the need for stable funding is also an urgent one.  Our state government has experienced a substantial revenue shortfall due to the economic challenges currently facing the nation and our state.  The gap between what the courts need and what the courts receive to fulfill their role as the third branch of our democracy has widened dangerously as the recession forces cuts in court funding – even as Florida citizens and businesses turn to the courts in much greater numbers.

Fortunately, there are rational solutions that will go a long way to provide Florida’s courts with the resources we need to do our job:  protect rights and liberties, uphold and interpret the law, and provide for the peaceful resolution of disputes.  The court system has been actively working on a plan to stabilize court funding.  Following are seven basic principles that will not only address the current revenue decline but also secure justice for all Floridians for decades to come.  Supplemental resources and links are also provided below, which provide further information about Florida’s courts and their funding needs.

PRINCIPLE ONE: 

The elements of the State Courts System codified in section 29.001, Florida Statutes, should be adequately funded by the State to ensure the guarantee of court access by Florida’s citizens.
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PRINCIPLE TWO:

Court fees assessed and paid by Florida’s citizens to access their court system should be dedicated to the court system, as already provided for by state law. Read complete text

PRINCIPLE THREE:

Unless adequate safeguards are in place, court-related revenue other than filing fee revenue (revenue derived from fines, service charges, and costs) should not be dedicated to court funding but used to support other justice system partners. Read complete text

PRINCIPLE FOUR:

All current court-related revenue being collected should be reevaluated to determine what portion of current filing fee revenue should be dedicated to court funding. Read complete text

PRINCIPLE FIVE:

Additional or increased filing fees should be considered, but only after an adequate review of the distribution of the current filing fee revenue has been made. Read complete text

PRINCIPLE SIX:

Some components of the State Courts System are more appropriately funded from the general fund and should remain so.
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PRINCIPLE SEVEN:

State Court Trust Funds are the appropriate depositories for court filing fee revenue. Read complete text

Funding Justice Links