Today's news -- February 2, 2012

Fasano booted from committee in feud over privatizing prisons

As a divided Senate struggled for a second day over a prison privatization plan, its biggest critic was stripped of a chairmanship and an "extremely disappointed" Gov. Rick Scott twisted opposing senators' arms to no avail. The chaos leaves a priority of Senate leaders in grave jeopardy a year after a similar plan was thrown out by a judge because it was tucked into the budget and not debated separately. Opponents said that such a massive expansion of privatization could not survive an up-or-down vote in the full Senate. Senate leaders say the state can save much-needed money by outsourcing 26 prisons and work camps in South Florida to private, for-profit vendors with a guaranteed savings of at least 7 percent. But they face growing resistance from senators who doubt the promised savings of between $16 million and $30 million a year and who are unwilling to disrupt state workers' lives for what they say are modest savings in a budget of almost $70 billion. Critics also say the cost of paying displaced prison workers for unused sick leave and vacation time would offset the savings. Amid the mounting tension, Senate President Mike Haridopolos refused to bring up the bill for debate, a sign that it faced defeat. Ten of 28 Senate Republicans have voiced strong reservations or opposition to such a major policy shift, a serious rift in the GOP caucus. The drama intensified as Haridopolos stripped Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, of his chairmanship of a budget subcommittee overseeing prisons, saying Fasano "was not rowing in the same direction" as Senate leaders on budget decisions. Fasano said Haridopolos told him he was being punished for his anti-privatization comments in an MSNBC interview Monday. "It's unfortunate when leaders of the Senate can't lose like gentlemen," Fasano said. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, will replace Fasano as chairman of the criminal justice budget panel, and Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, will take Bogdanoff's old assignment as the chairman of the Finance and Tax Committee. As senators debated a school prayer bill Wednesday, Scott quietly summoned two Senate Republicans who oppose privatization to his office for one-on-one meetings. Scott is a strong supporter of the outsourcing plan. Scott's backroom lobbying did no good. Both senators, former sheriffs, remain firmly opposed to more privatization of prisons. Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness, said he respects Scott as his party leader and "my quarterback," but added: "I stay with him but not on this issue, because I have my personal convictions that this is wrong." Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Alachua, said Scott told him the savings are "foolproof" and are needed because the governor believes the state retirement fund is broke. Like Dean, Oelrich opposes outsourcing public safety. "I'm not a big-government guy," Oelrich said. "But there's some things we ought to do and taking custody and control of the people we imprison is one of them."

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/sen-mike-fasano-booted-from-committee-in-feud-over-privatizing-prisons/1213483

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120201/WIRE/120209911/1034?Title=Senator-booted-off-budget-panel-over-prison-privatization (FEA mentioned)

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/florida-senate-president-ousts-committee-chair-for-opposing-2141751.html

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=26390169

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/fl-private-prisons-senate-vote-20120201,0,1302830.story

 

Unions rush to Fasano's defense

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/unions-speak-out-defense-fasano (Andy Ford quoted)
http://floridaindependent.com/67450/mike-fasano-prisons-unions (Andy Ford quoted)

http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/dcblog/2012/02/unions_rush_to_fasanos_defense.html (FEA mentioned)

 

Corrections workers express fear as prison privatization vote nears

http://floridaindependent.com/67403/corrections-workers-express-fear-as-prison-privatization-vote-nears

 

Scott "extremely disappointed" in opponents of prison privatization

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/02/gov-rick-scott-said-he-is-extremely-disappointed-in-officials-who-wont-vote-for-a-massive-south-florida-prison-privatizat.html

 

Partisan scuffle over privatization and tax breaks yields hot air and jerked knees
http://www.postonpolitics.com/2012/02/partisan-scuffle-over-privatization-and-tax-breaks-yields-hot-air-and-jerked-knees/

 

House moves ahead with $69.2 billion budget
http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/gubernatorial/692-billion-house-budget-plan-trades-increased-school-funding-for-medicaid/1213450

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-house-budget-advances-20120201,0,47247.story

http://www.theledger.com/article/20120201/politics/120209919

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=26391733

 

House prepares major property tax cut
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-florida-tax-breaks-20120201,0,5614306.story

http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=26393079

 

Haridopolos: Senate budget allocations expected next week
http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=26391182

 

Does merit pay really increase teacher retention?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/does-merit-pay-really-increase-teacher-retention/2012/02/01/gIQAydluhQ_blog.html

 

Bay teachers, schools start contract negotiations (Nancy Young quoted)

http://www.newsherald.com/news/panama-100112-schools-teachers.html

 

Pinellas teachers plan protest this week (PCTA mentioned)
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/content/pinellas-teachers-plan-protest-week


Teachers, parents urge School Board to choose educator as next leader (Debra Wilhelm quoted)

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-palm-school-superintendent-plan-20120201,0,5935039.story

Pasco public school rankings released (Andy Ford quoted)
http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2012/feb/01/1/panewso1-public-school-rankings-released-ar-353523/

 

Major changes considered in early learning bills
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/major-changes-considered-in-early-learning-bills-2141745.html

 

State eyes school-bus ads for more money
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-school-bus-advertising-florida-20120201,0,3911480.story

Senate approves school prayer bill
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/florida-senate-approves-school-prayer-bill/1213493

 

Tuition hikes wear thin on students, administrators
http://www2.tbo.com/news/politics/2012/feb/02/tuition-hikes-wear-thin-ar-354060/

http://www.alligator.org/opinion/editorials/article_d782f124-4d5a-11e1-8fb7-001871e3ce6c.html

 

UF moves forward with 3 percent faculty raises (John Biro quoted)
http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120201/ARTICLES/120209944/1007/NEWS?Title=UF-moves-forward-with-3-percent-faculty-raises

 

Rising college costs leave middle class behind

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/views/os-scott-maxwell-college-tutition-020112-20120131,0,5697721.column

 

Bill to give illegal immigrants' kids in-state tuition is quashed

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/college/students-decry-demise-of-florida-bill-to-give-illegal-immigrants-kids/1213477

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/403605/tonyaa-weathersbee/2012-02-02/floridas-dream-killing-tuition-policy

 

House beginning floor debate on redistricting

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120202/APN/1202020595

 

Districts: A mixture of progress and failure
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-legislature-fair-districts-020212-20120201,0,7090270.story

 

Florida ranks near bottom for income, financial security of residents

http://fcir.org/2012/02/02/florida-ranks-near-bottom-for-income-financial-security-of-residents/

 

Oops! Burgin leaves ALEC fingerprint on bill
http://www.tboblogs.com/index.php/news/story/oops-burgin-leaves-alec-fingerprint-on-bill/

 

Under pressure from environmentalists, water privatization proposal scrapped

http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/water/under-pressure-from-environmentalists-water-privatization-proposal-scrapped/1213469

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/language-change-in-state-bill-would-keep-reclaimed-2141729.html

 

Norman aide accused of not filing tax returns for five years
http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/aide-to-state-sen-jim-norman-accused-of-not-filing-tax-returns-for-five/1213409

 

Time to rebuild the middle class

http://www.help.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/?id=1216141a-c046-4721-a79f-f3386649aa3c&groups=Chair

 

Indiana governor signs law making right-to-work state
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/us/indiana-becomes-right-to-work-state.html
http://leadernet.aft.org/news/article_detail.cfm?ArticleID=3483  (Randi Weingarten quoted)

http://www.laborradio.org/Channels/Story.aspx?ID=1648632


Weingarten urges activism and advocacy in New Jersey

http://leadernet.aft.org/news/article_detail.cfm?ArticleID=3484

 

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