Florida prisons are saving money by getting better deals on paper towels, toilet paper, prescription drugs, and bar soap while inmates are wearing cheaper shoes, all in response to a budget deficit that’s ballooned to $95.2 million, the Associated Press reports. Department of Corrections officials told a legislative panel that internal cost-cutting steps won’t be enough to reduce the deficit to zero when the budget year ends on June 30.
Gov. Rick Scott is asking the Legislature to appropriate $74.8 million to cover most of the deficit. That would leave the department responsible for eliminating the remaining $20.4 million through such actions as trading traditional canvas shoes for cheaper, longer-lasting plastic Crocs, buying cheaper asthma inhalers, and cutting back on travel. The state had anticipated saving money by privatizing inmate health care statewide and entire prisons in South Florida, but courts have blocked those efforts. The privatization of health care in nine South Florida prisons has survived a legal challenge from public employee unions.