JD Alexander Fighting to Keep Private Prison Costs Secret
The Orlando Sentinel asked J.D. Alexander if questions on if privatized prisons would save Florida money were valid. Alexander, Senate Budget Committee chairman, had an amazing answer.
"I don't think the it's genuine criticism," Alexander said.
Not that Alexander has heard a lot of "criticism." Alexander allowed only two citizens the opportunity to speak to the committee. One of the speakers was a lobbyist for Florida Tax Watch, a group that supports the privatization of prisons.
Another point of the matter: the Senate Budget Committee has done no studies of whether private prisons would save Florida money. In fact, Alexander is one of the sponsors of SB 2036. The bill forbids the Florida legislature from collecting economic data on private prisons. SB 2036 would exempt private prison from given states economic data for the first five years. Under current law, any outsourced or private run state program must provide cost data for the first five years of its existence. Alexander can't say criticism about cost is unjust, since he has no idea what the cost is. Alexander is making sure no one else finds out what the cost will be.
For someone who claims to be trying to save taxpayers money, Alexander only allowed the budget committee 3 minutes to debate. The debate dealt with amendments. There was no serious policy discussion detailing costs. Sen. Mike Fasano questioned to committee about costs. The Orlando Sentinel doesn't say if this produced any answers. Fasano has been against the privatization plan.
The Sentinel article notes that Corrections Corp. of America and the Geo Group would likely be awarded contacts, if the privatization plan passes (which is highly likely.) CCA and the Geo Group have donated lavishly to Florida Republicans. Privatization of prisons may not make sense for Florida taxpayers. But it makes a whole lot of sense for the Florida Republican establishment.