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Senate budget chief JD Alexander on prison boss ouster, mental health and more

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate budget chief JD Alexander sat down with Gov. Rick Scott for an hour this afternoon at the Lake Wales lawmaker’s request. Alexander was there to pitch Scott on allowing USF Polytechnic to become a stand-alone university at its campus near his hometown.

Before leaving the Capitol, Alexander shared some thoughts about Scott’s ouster of corrections secretary Ed Buss, the $700 million cut to water management districts’ spending and issues coming up in the next legislative session.

Alexander said Buss’s resignation was called for, citing concerns about a possible conflict of interest with the woman Buss hired to oversee the privatization of the prison system’s health care.

And Alexander harshly criticized Buss’s business plan justifying the privatization of all prisons within an 18-county region encompassing the southern portion of the state, calling it “wholly inadequate.”

Alexander included the privatization of the Department of Corrections Region IV in the budget late during the legislative session that ended in May. He’s convinced it will save the state about $45 million.

Perhaps Buss was not as keen on privatization as others in Scott’s administration or the legislature had hoped, Alexander was asked.

“That’s probably true. Looking not from what he told me during session but what he did after session didn’t seem like he was really taking that seriously,” Alexander said.

Read what Alexander says about what the legislature may do about the water management districts, the shuttering of the prison health care watchdog and state contracts after the jump.
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Scott hires cost-cutter to head state procurement agency

Friday, January 21st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott brought on fellow health care executive Jack Miles to head the Department of Management Services, an agency the governor has blasted for wasting taxpayer money.

Miles oversaw contract management and purchasing at CIGNA, one of the nation’s biggest health insurers. Scott founded and was formerly CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain and owns Solantic, a chain of health care centers.

Miles slashed spending at CIGNA by $80 million in less than two years, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office announcing the appointment.

“State government has to learn to live within its means, and Jack Miles will make sure that our state spends taxpayer dollars more wisely as we tighten the belt across the entire government,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott will put Miles to work reviewing contracts to see where the state can “reduce costs and increase efficiency,” the release reads.

Scott’s office is now analyzing every state agency contract worth more than $1 million. He said earlier this week he’s looking at saving money on state purchases as a way to plug a $3.62 billion budget deficit.

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