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Unions speak out in defense of Fasano

The state's top unions issued the following statements today in response to Senate President Mike Haridopolos' decision to remove Sen. Mike Fasano from his post as chairman of the Senate budget committee that handles prison funding. The unions had opposed the effort to privatize the South Florida prisons.

Here are their statements:

Florida AFL-CIO President, Mike Williams:  

“It is a sad day in Florida politics when disagreeing with Senate Leadership on legislation can remove a Senator from a chairmanship or any leadership position. This happened today to Senator Fasano.  The Florida AFL-CIO and our affiliates are outraged that the leadership in the Senate would stoop to political games and payback for disagreeing with their expedited process to privatize correctional facilities.

"Why did they do this? Because the Senator from New Port Richey is standing up for the working families of Florida, instead of special interests who have bought and paid for politicians to do their bidding.  The Florida Senate should not be a venue for retribution but should serve the people of the state of Florida.  We are disappointed by today’s events, but we know that this will embolden the Senator and his allies on this issue. We know Senator Fasano will fight even harder to make sure that families and communities in our state are protected and that the voice of opposition to a corporate takeover of governmental functions is louder than ever before."

FEA President Andy Ford:

“It’s a shame that standing up for what you believe is right can land you in hot water. But that’s what happened to Sen. Mike Fasano. He believed that privatizing many of our state’s prisons was not a good idea and would hurt many of Florida’s working, middle class families.

"So he followed Senate rules, garnered support for his position and stalled the efforts by Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leadership to cook the books and turn state-run facilities over to corporate profiteers as political payback for their generous campaign contributions. But following the rules of the Senate angered leadership and led to Fasano being stripped of his committee chairmanship. This deplorable tactic is not a shining example of democracy in action.” 

Matt Puckett, Executive Director of the Florida Police Benevolent Association:

"The Florida Police Benevolent Association is disappointed in the decision to remove Senator Mike Fasano from the position as chairman of the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. Senator Fasano is a strong supporter of law enforcement officers and their families.   He is also a watchdog of the taxpayers’ money and his questioning of the alleged cost savings from privatization should be applauded not condemned."