The AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association are calling yesterday’s announcement that Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos removed state Sen. Mike Fasano from a committee chairmanship “a shame,” “sad” and “deplorable.”

Fasano, R-New Port Richey, stood with union groups in opposition to the state’s plans to privatize prisons some regions of the state. Following his public criticism of the Legislature’s plans, Haridopolos removed him from his positions as the chair of the Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriation and from his role on the Senate Committee on Budget.

Fasano said in a statement yesterday that “if the loss of a chairmanship is the result of taking a stand for what is right, I wear that loss as a badge of honor.”

Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams said that “it is a sad day in Florida politics when disagreeing with Senate Leadership on legislation can remove a Senator from a chairmanship or any leadership position.”

“This happened today to Sen. Fasano,” Williams continued.

The Florida AFL-CIO and our affiliates are outraged that the leadership in the Senate would stoop to political games and payback for disagreeing with their expedited process to privatize correctional facilities. Why did they do this? Because the senator from New Port Richey is standing up for the working families of Florida, instead of special interests who have bought and paid for politicians to do their bidding. The Florida Senate should not be a venue for retribution but should serve the people of the state of Florida. We are disappointed by today’s events, but we know that this will embolden the senator and his allies on this issue. We know Sen. Fasano will fight even harder to make sure that families and communities in our state are protected and that the voice of opposition to a corporate takeover of governmental functions is louder than ever before.

FEA President Andy Ford said “it’s a shame that standing up for what you believe is right can land you in hot water. … But that’s what happened to Sen. Mike Fasano.”

“He believed that privatizing many of our state’s prisons was not a good idea and would hurt many of Florida’s working, middle class families,” Ford said in a statement yesterday. “So he followed Senate rules, garnered support for his position and stalled the efforts by Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leadership to cook the books and turn state-run facilities over to corporate profiteers as political payback for their generous campaign contributions. But following the rules of the Senate angered leadership and led to Fasano being stripped of his committee chairmanship. This deplorable tactic is not a shining example of democracy in action.”

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