Florida soon will privatize 30 prisons to save money, but before that, taxpayers will be on the hook for a payout of up to $25 million, says the Miami Herald. That's how much the Department of Corrections says it will cost to pay more than 4,000 displaced state corrections workers for their accumulated vacation time, sick leave, and comp time for working on holidays.
The hidden expense was never discussed in public last spring when the legislature pushed ahead with the most ambitious privatization venture in the history of state government. Now, the prison system — already coping with a series of budget cuts — is forced to find the money. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union for correctional officers, has sued to block the privatization. The operations of every prison in an 18-county region will be turned over to a private vendor Jan. 1. The vendor will be required to run prisons for 7 percent less than the state.