For the second time in a year, a Florida judge has ruled that the state Legislature violated the law when it tried to privatize the state’s role in operating prisons, reports the Miami Herald. Leon County Judge John Cooper struck down an attempt by the Florida Legislature to privatize prison health care by using a budgetary process instead of making the change through a full vote of lawmakers.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Department of Corrections will appeal the ruling, warning that the state now faces a $90 million deficit because they had counted saving that much over the next two years by having private contractors provide prison health care. Cooper said that the Legislature had the power to contract its prison health services to private, for-profit companies, but it went about it the wrong way. Rather than put the issue up for a full vote — and face likely defeat — legislative leaders chose to rely on the 14-member Legislative Budget Commission to authorize the change.