Massive new prison outsourcing proposal surfaces
The proposed Senate and House budgets include at least one huge surprise: a requirement that the Department of Corrections privatize all of its operations in South Florida. The Senate budget would privatize all of the prisons in Region IV, an 18-county area from Key West to Bradenton. The House budget calls for privatizing all prison and probation operations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties only.
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who chairs the Senate budget committee overseeing prisons, was blindsided by the language in the Senate budget. "It didn't go through the proper process," Fasano said. "This should have been vetted. It's not the way to go." He said it was an insult to him and the other members of his budget panel: "My committee members and I are not potted plants," Fasano said.
The Florida Police Benevolent Association -- the bargaining unit for correctional officers that ran that very harsh TV ad against Rick Scott last fall -- is outraged that such a controversial proposal surfaced with no public discussion. "This is unprecedented," said PBA executive director Matt Puckett. "This (outsourcing) has never been done on this massive a scale."
This is only the start of the budget dance that will dominate the next six weeks of the legislative session. A source in the prison system says the privatization proposal was not requested by the Department of Corrections.