Thu October 25, 2012
State Lawmaker Says Foreclosure Money Should Be Spent Soon
State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, says she hopes her colleagues in the Legislature will resolve an issue with State Attorney General Pam Bondi that is currently tying up $300 million dollars meant to help Florida homeowners hurt by the state's foreclosure crisis.
Right now, Florida is one of the only states that has not used the milllions of dollars it received in a settlement from a successful fight with big banks accused of wrongful foreclosures and mortgage service abuses.
Florida-- including Miami-- was hit very hard by the country's foreclosure crisis and this $300 million is expected to be a huge relief to the state.
However, Bondi and state lawmakers are fighting over who is in charge of handing out the money. This is because the law isn't too clear about who has the authority to decide how the money is spent.
"That's the problem," Rich says. "There seems to be some vagary to the law."
Other states have not had this same problem, though.
The legislature also doesn't re-convene until March, which could prolong this another several months.
Rich says that if state lawmakers insist on having a say, a budget committee should meet as soon as possible.
She says this will probably be the more likely option.
Rich says she feels confident that Bondi, a Republican, will send the money to the right place, but isn't so sure the GOP-led legislature will do an equally good job. She says the Legislature has a history of spending federal monies on the wrong services.
She says Bondi has made a commitment to spending the money on consumers and borrowers that need the help, which could include foreclosure prevention and helping people who are at risk of losing their homes.
"I have more confidence that the money will go where it is supposed to if it is funneled through the attorney general's office," Rich says.