The Florida Senate rejected a privatization bill for prisons that state economists say would have saved Florida $16.5 million, leaving some legislators unsatisfied.
There have been discussions throughout the Capitol with Gov. Rick Scott and his office about proceeding with privatization in certain places in Florida.
Some republicans believe Florida will be better off privatizing prisons due to a declining number of inmates.
“We had a choice between saving that money because we are in a nicer position than we ever anticipated,” Scott said. “We have fewer inmates than we anticipated having. Why wouldn’t we save that money and put it in education?”
Sen. Mike Fasano lost his seat on two budget committees, including a chairmanship, because of his opposition to privatization.
He hopes Scott takes the Senate vote into consideration before proceeding.
“It’s his prerogative,” said Fasano. “I hope he learned that the direction that was abandoned is not the direction that the taxpayers of Florida want.”
Since prison privatization was predicted to save money, legislators believe the savings will have to come from other sources in the state’s budget.
Senate President Mike Haridopolos said cuts would have to come from health care and education.
“They’re going to take the disproportion and hits as a whole,” Haridopolos said.
He assured that the Senate would not allow any of the prisons to be turned over to private companies if the state doesn’t save at least seven percent of its current costs.
“This is what bold ideas are about and I think the goal was clear,” said Haridopolos. “It was about trying to save money in a very difficult budget year.”
Prison privatization is something that Sen. Christopher Smith opposes. Smith said private companies are more concerned with making money than they are with keeping employees. “Every year we go through this budget and create unemployment,” said Smith. “We fire a lot of workers in this state.”