ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — State Attorney Aramis Ayala claims proposed budget cuts to her office are putting public safety at risk.
Legislators are proposing to cut her annual funds by about $1.3 million in response to Ayala’s refusal to pursue the death penalty while in office.
Former State Attorney Jeff Ashton said that’s part of funding he fought for to help prosecute domestic violence and human-trafficking cases.
“This was politics. Not policy,” Ashton said.
The total budget for the office is $29 million a year.
Ayala released a statement Wednesday calling the cuts unfair, and labeling the move as political posturing on the part of her opponents.
State lawmakers want to strip the office of the money and divert it to state prosecutors, who will take on death penalty cases.
In her statement, she said the death penalty cases represent less than one percent of the cases the office handles.
She went on to claim that losing $1.3 million a year and 21 jobs might make Central Florida a more dangerous place.
Ayala was not specific about what might fall through the cracks.
Ashton said it will be a challenge given Central Florida’s constant growth.
“She’s basically going to be going back to the budget that we lives with for the first three years of my administration,” said Ashton.
There are 385 positions in the office.
Channel 9's Field Sutton asked whether those jobs belong to attorneys or support staff, but has not gotten a response.
Full Statement From Ayala's Office:
We have learned that the legislature intends to cut the 9th Circuit State Attorney’s budget appropriation in response to our office’s position on the death penalty.
Of all the cases this office handles, less than .01% are death penalty cases. The other 99.99% include non-capital homicides, sexual batteries, sex crimes against children, domestic violence, drug and human trafficking, carjackings, robberies, burglaries, DUI’s thefts, aggravated assaults, batteries and other violent and non-violent crimes.
The impact of cutting 1.3 million dollars and eliminating 21 positions would severely impact this agency’s ability to effectively prosecute crimes, threaten public safety and ultimately have an economic impact on the central Florida community. We work hand in hand with law enforcement. Without proper funding, our collaborative work with police agencies will be drastically impacted.
The millions of tourist and people who call central Florida home are able to enjoy the public safety this community offers. They should not be impacted by political posturing. It is my hope that we all stand in solidarity to ensure the public safety for the State of Florida.
Cox Media Group