UPDATE: Gov. Rick Scott’s administration will appeal a judge’s decision that scrapped a prison health care services contract.
“This ruling is wrong and puts in jeopardy nearly $90 million over the next two years that could be used to fund critical priorities – including increasing K-12 education funding. We are working with the Department of Corrections to appeal the decision and protect hundreds of other state jobs that the Department could be forced to eliminate if they lose nearly $90 million in expected savings.” –Melissa Sellers, Communications Director, Governor Rick Scott
A legislative committee did not have the authority to approve a plan to outsource prison health services, a Tallahassee judge ruled today.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that the way the Department of Corrections went about getting the funding for the privatization of health services in DOC Regions I, II and II was unlawful because it was not included in the state budget. The 14-member Legislative Budget Commission approved the spending earlier this year. Cooper’s order blocks DOC from moving forward with a contract with Corizon, Inc., ruling in favor of the two unions representing prison workers and nurses that sued the state.
The LBC can only make “limited adjustments” to the budget (also known as the General Appropriations Act), not change policy and procedures, Cooper wrote.
“‘Limited adjustments to the budget’ plainly contemplates administration of the approved budget according to its underlying intent, not new policy/spending priority decisions that could have been but were not passed by the full legislature. Otherwise, the exception swallows the rule, allowing a small handful of legislators to rewrite the GAA,” he wrote.
Cooper said a separate contract with Wexford Health Services for health care in Region I could move forward because it was included in the state budget.
The state can appeal.