The separate budget proposals passed by the Florida House and Senate last week both feature big layoffs of the state workforce, charging state workers for their retirement plans, deep cuts in healthcare services and other assistance for the young, the disabled and the elderly. These are painful budget plans that reflect the Republican-led Legislature’s struggle to balance the budget while facing a $3.75 billion deficit and still keeping a campaign promise to avoid tax increases.
The budgeting process is far from done. The bills need to be reconciled in committee through negotiation and continued outside pressure from many legitimate interest groups — not the least of them being public hospitals, public schools and the entire state justice system.
Many aspects of the proposed budget will get a closer look as the session progresses. But one proposal featured in the Senate bill definitely needs to be stripped out of the negotiations now: a plan to privatize state prisons in 18 counties
But the massive switch to completely privatizing 18 correctional facilities without debate, research or planning is a much more foolhardy enterprise than the FDOT proposal. It simply makes no sense and seems fueled more by lobbying and campaign contributions from private prison operators than from any reasoned approach to trimming the cost of incarcerating prisoners.
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