State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, appeared on Democracy Now! yesterday to discuss the defeat of a bill that would have privatized 27 Florida prisons. The bill would have essentially created the biggest corporate prison system in the country.
Fasano was one of the most vocal and influential opponents of the state’s plan. Throughout committee hearings and public debate, he criticized Senate leadership — predominately Senate President Mike Haridopolos — for “rushing” the bill. He also took issue with the lack of financial analysis completed before the bill’s vote, the lack of public input, and claims that privatization would help balance the budget. Fasano’s concerns and criticisms were echoed by both Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate, corrections workers, labor groups, the NAACP, the tea party, civil rights groups, and faith leaders.
Fasano told Democracy Now! yesterday that Gov. Rick Scott “has the authority through statute” to privatize prisons. He also said he takes issue with the claims the governor has made that privatization would save the state money. He said such claims, which remain unsubstantiated, are “why [he] asked for the study.” He said he wanted to find out “if there are true savings there” and whether or not such moves would put public safety at risk.
He also spoke of the “bipartisan” vote to kill the bill this week and discussed how his opposition to the plans cost him a committee chairmanship, describing how he told Haridopolos “he could not support the expansion of privatization of our prisons” when he was first assigned his chairmanship.
You can watch Fasano’s entire interview on Democracy Now! here: