JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Local state attorneys want a pay raise.
Both prosecutors and public defenders say their complaints about low wages are more than just a personal problem. The state attorney's office says low salaries are hurting our entire legal system.
"Our salaries are atrocious," said State Attorney Angela Corey.
Corey says that is what makes turnover a major problem and ultimately affects court cases. "We start them at $40,000 a year. Some lawyers are working 40, 50, 60 hours a week with no overtime," said Corey. "They're handling complex criminal cases, where private defense attorneys would be making in the 100's .... You can't help when lawyers leave for more lucrative positions," said Corey.
The president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association agrees. He argued before the Senate appropriations committee on criminal and civil justice. He says prosecutors need a raise. The chair of the committee, and local Senator Rob Bradley says while the budget looks OK for now, money is always tight.
Bradley told Action News there needs to be some kind of incentive to keep prosecutors after they've worked for a few years. Corey agrees and says taxpayers would get a return on their investment. "For one, it saves money in the long run because when we prosecutors leave, they don't have to reinvent the wheel," said Corey.
Lawmakers are just starting to talk about the budget. A decision on these raises won't be made for several months. The Supreme Court's future ruling on the state retirement lawsuit could affect the budget. Last year, the legislature passed a law requiring employees to put 3-percent into the system. Unions challenged it and are awaiting a ruling.