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Gov. Rick Scott mulls moving forward with prison privatization despite Senate rejection

Gov. Rick Scott said he will explore opportunities to privatize state prisons on his own following the Senate's defeat of a bill that would have required some prisons be bid out to private companies.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning after a public event on insurance fraud, Scott acknowledged that initially he didn't consider privatizing prisons a priority, but was disappointed the Senate voted down a bill that would have done that, and said he'll explore what many backers of the Senate plan said was a possibility – that the governor could order privatization unilaterally.

"It wasn't something that was one of my legislative session priorities this year, but here's what I think about it," Scott said. "I got elected to hold government accountable, to not waste taxpayers' money. So here was an opportunity that the Senate had to give us the opportunity to save a significant amount of money….. I’m disappointed the Senate didn’t do that. I’m going to look at what I have the opportunity to do. …I'm going to make sure that we don't waste money."

Scott pointed out that there are fewer inmates than anticipated and that it didn't make sense to spend state dollars on half-full prisons.

"Why wouldn't we save that money and put the money into education, into textbooks, and to make sure we have the right health care safety net instead of spending the money where we don't need to?" Scott said.

The Senate earlier this week voted 21-19 against a bill that would have required privatization of most of the prison facilities in an 18-county area from roughly Tampa Bay south. The bill would have required prison operators to guarantee savings of $16.5 million a year immediately in order to get the bid, though many opponents said they didn't believe the savings would materialize.

A coalition of senators from both parties, including those who represent lots of prison guards, to those who said they didn't trust the savings figures, to those who said they worried about turning over a critical safety function to the private sector, opposed the bill, which was a top priority of the Republican leadership in the Senate.

Scott's jump into the controversy – after months of refusing to answer directly what his position was on the idea – drew immediate criticism from the opponents of privatization, including the union that currently represents most state corrections officers.

"The Senate reflected the will of the citizens of Florida when it voted to kill prison privatization," said Ken Wood, acting president of Teamsters Local 2011, which represents about 20,000 correctional officers in the state. "Floridians do not want the rules changed so private companies can get secret contracts with no cost-benefit analysis and no public review."

The House never got a chance to vote on the issue.

House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, said Thursday when asked what he thought about Scott taking the lead on the issue that he would defer to the governor and if Scott pursued it, he would likely support him.

"That's totally his call," Cannon said. "I've said that my personal view is that privatization is one component of reconfiguring our criminal justice system asset. It's not a panacea … But the bill died in the Senate, so I think as a legislative matter it's dead. I would defer entirely to him if he chooses to pursue it, I would be inclined to respect his judgment."

News Service of Florida

Comments

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jeffery

This is absurd that the govenor would just override the Senate on an issue such as this. It just goes to show you how bent the corrupted governor truely is. He received so much money from the private prison companies to run hos campaign that he has an "I owe them one" mentality. Then they bend figures and allow the 7 currently private private prisons to hand pick their inmates to further warp figures into looking more favorable. Wake up Florida!!!!!

whasup

What utter nonsense!

Like all the raving pro-union, pro-bureaucracy, anti-taxpayer trolls, neither you--nor apparently the little circuit court judge in Tallahassee--bothered to see that Florida statutes (enacted by the Legislature) for many years have allowed for privatizing government functions, and some old statutes have specifically authorized privatizing prisons.

As for bending figures, you should note that the DOC puts out data on prison costs by type of prison every year ... and when it does it cooks its categories in order to hide one-fifth of the inmates in a special category to try to make their main prison buildings look cheaper to run.

Mark P

Governor Scott is destroying Florida, he is akin to Hitler.

Lucia

Rick Scott is a crook-plain and simple. He has no interest in serving the people of Florida. He only cares about big business and how he will make money once he is out of office. He will privatize the prisons-I bet his wife has stock in them.

Marty Kiar

Rick is so smart he knows better than EVERYONE else. It is his way or the highway. He claims to be a Christian yet he is callous. He claims to be a Republican yet he infringes on personal rights. This guy is dangerous-who is ready to start the recall on this jackass?

camille norton

Rick scott is doing this for his own personal gin. Before he was elected he stood by the correctional offers and police officers and what has he done so far. He has attacked all of us. Rick Scott needs to work in a high security jail for 8 hrs. Let him walk in our boots. Give him a radio (if it works) and oc and let him do our job for 8 hrs. Why is Scott pushing this threw so fast? What is your reason. Rick Scott you give up your salary for 1 year and that will pay for all the officers that would be out of job. We will fight you and we will win. You are very dangerous to the safety of the people of Florida. You must be stopped. We have more inmates now than we ever did. Rick Scott do you ever look at the news? You are a crook. You are going to make money on this, we are not stupid people We won fair and square now leave it alone and go make your money some where. Leave us little people alone.

christopher rogers

Rick Scott would never show up at a state run Correctional facility because he is a coward. He could never be a Correctional Officer because they have morals. He belongs inside of the fence,and his cell mate should be J.D. Alexander.

Bill Harrigan

Scott said. "I got elected to hold government accountable, to not waste taxpayers' money. So here was an opportunity that the Senate had to give us the opportunity to save a significant amount of money….. I’m disappointed the Senate didn’t do that. I’m going to look at what I have the opportunity to do. …I'm going to make sure that we don't waste money."

Gov. Scott...wasting money is EXACTLY what you will be doing by pursuing this privatization plan. The costs far outweight any "savings" that you think the State might realize...both financially and humanitarily! Think of the unemployment that you'll be creating along with trying to pay off pension and leave benefits that these officers are entitled to...and last but not least...think of the danger that you'll be placing Florida's citizens in by handing over our most dangerous populations to "for profit" companies that will put profit ahead of security in trying to give you some form of "savings". You will, in the long run, waste many times more of the tax-payers money than you'll save!!

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/02/gov-rick-scott-mulls-moving-forward-with-prison-privatization-despite-senate-rejection.html#storylink=cpy

Dave

This is already costing the tax payers. With closing 11 prisons, Secretary Tucker put a team together to evaluate different criterias. One of them being how it would impact the communities and local goverments. This did not happen. Why would you close 4 work camps? These camps put out hundreds of inmates everyday to serve these communities and save tax payers money. I work at one of these work camps and nobody from DOC contacted any of the county or state officials to see if and how much it would affect the county. Division of Forestry is going to loose approximately $1 million in revenue a year due to the loss of inmate labor. Mr. Tucker, your team did not do thier job as you described. If that was me, I would be terminated.

Terry

This might be a great opportunity! If Rick Scott goes down the road of union bashing and privatization, he might just make the public mad enough to start a recall petition to remove him from office. He's already alienated just about every group possible. I'd love to seem him follow Gov. Scott Walker

David

Scott is trying to destroy the state to save 7% on the budget. Rather than shut down a good working system in favor of a corrupt private system, adjust the corrections budget in South Florida by 7%. Is this another case of insider trading by going private?

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