I’m trying to keep a running tally of the direct funds to states from the foreclosure fraud settlement that will get diverted to General Funds to fill budget holes. When we last left this story, Maine had decided to send $5.7 million to the general fund, joining Missouri’s $40 million and Wisconsin’s $26 million. So let’s keep the tally going with this from David Lieb of the AP:
In Pennsylvania, where a fourth straight budget deficit is projected, Democrats are pressing the Republican-run attorney general’s office to use some of its $69 million payment to offset $2 billion in cuts to programs that benefit education, the elderly, disabled or poor.
“The governor’s budget has so many cuts to so many valuable programs, if the attorney general’s office has $69 million, why not use that to offset these cuts to essential programs?” said state Rep. Joe Markosek, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Vermont plans to use $2.4 million from the settlement to help balance its budget. Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said about 10 percent of his state’s $62.5 million payment will be made available for the governor and lawmakers to spend as they choose.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is cited in the story saying she would oppose using the money for the budget, and California Governor Jerry Brown said through a spokesman that no decision has been made.
So let’s just go with what we know. We have the $71.7 million from the previous three states, and then $2.4 million from Vermont and $6.25 million from Maryland. In addition, Democrats are pushing for general fund diverting in Pennsylvania, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
So the total for five average-sized and small states is: $80.35 million. That’s 2.9% of the settlement. But it’s a much larger percentage, over half, of the total payout in those five states. And we have 44 states to go (remember, Oklahoma opted out).
In Florida, one of the biggest recipients of settlement funds, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) got six members of Congress on a letter, including DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Republican Richard Nugent, to demand that Pam Bondi and Rick Scott not divert any of the funds to the budget. Frankly, I’m not optimistic on this. But the appearance of both Nugent and the DNC Chair on the letter shows that Scott and Bondi at least may pay a price here.