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Chief Justice Canady asks for $46 million as court system continues struggle with budget

Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has asked Gov. Rick Scott and legislative budget leaders to provide a temporary transfer of $45.6 million into the trust fund that pays for the court system's operations.

In Wednesday letters to Scott, Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, Canady said the transfer would be enough to sustain the court's current budgets through March.

The financial emergency is pinned on a dramatic drop in mortgage foreclosure filings, which supply most of the trust fund. Canady warned of the state's court-funding woes in March when he asked the trio for $72.3 million. The crisis could lead to unpaid furloughs and lengthy delays in litigation.

Early estimates put the value of the trust fund at $432 million for 2011-12. But that number came down to $272.9 million during a Sept. 12 revenue estimating conference, creating an anticipated $108 million shortfall, he wrote.

"Clearly, the new revenue estimate will not cover the court system's current appropriation and the required 8% service charge we are required to pay to General Revenue," Canady wrote.

Canady asked Alexander and Grimsley to address the remaining deficit during legislative budget talks in the 2012 session.

The governor's office has received the letter, but "Gov. Scott hasn't been able to look at it," said Scott spokesman Lane Wright. Wright had no further comment.