Redistricting legal bill, paid by taxpayers:
$8.1 million and counting
Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
Mary Ellen Klas
July 12, 2015
According to the latest tally by the Florida House
and Senate, the cost to taxpayers for the Legislature's defense of the
redistricting maps that the Florida Supreme Court ruled invalid last
week is $8.1 million.
With a trial scheduled to begin in September over the challenge from
Democrat-leaning voter groups to the state Senate map, the cost to the
taxpayers is mounting.
The House, which doesn't face a legal challenge to its own maps, has
spent the most -- $4.2 million, through July 10. The Senate has spent
$3.9 million -- so far.
What could that money be used for had lawmakers not relied on political
operatives and illegally created a map with the intent to protect
incumbents? It would be enough to pay $10,000 bonuses to 810
high-performing teachers. It's enough to pay the average hospital stay
for 4,050 uninsured. It's even enough to expand the tax free
back-to-school holiday another day.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that eight of the 27
congressional districts drawn by the GOP-led Legislature violates the
anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Florida Constitution and must be
redrawn by Oct. 17. That means that at least 25 districts aligned next
to them will likely have to be changed as well.
Lawmakers are expected to announce this week the dates of the special
session to redraw the new districts but, with so much at stake over the
state now-challenge Senate maps, will they decide to save taxpayers the
cost of defending them and revise the Senate maps as well?
David King, the lead attorney for the League of Women Voters and other
plaintiffs in the case, notes that there are similarities between the
way the Senate and congressional maps were adopted.
"The Senate map and the congressional map are two different maps,'' he
said during a conference call with reporters last week. "But they were
enacted pursuant to pretty much that same procedure and they were
impacted by the same political operatives who had the same partisan
He concluded that the court's ruling on the Senate map "will be highly
significant on the Senate case." More to come.