Budget conference: House sprinkles $40M for state prisons

private prisons (Large)
Most will go to bonus programs at high-vacancy facilities.

The Senate has been at odds with the House on raises for prison guards. But Representatives found a way to give the Department of Corrections more than $40 million, chiefly for bonuses.

The sprinkle list for the House includes about $38.1 million for a bonus program for targeted high vacancy facilities.

The House pulls half that funding from recurrent general revenue and the other half in one-time funding.

In addition, Representatives dole out $2 million for private prison operations. That pot draws from nonrecurring general revenue.

The sprinkle list is a set of supplemental funding items tacked onto the budget at the end of the negotiations. They are often member projects, but they can also be used to add money to a program that one chamber sought to fund at a higher level.

The Senate and House have reached a budget deal, though complete details have not been made public. But as of this weekend, the Senate had held a line regarding Corrections funding. While the House sought $65 million to provide raises for Florida’s correctional officers and maintenance staff, the Senate didn’t agree to any funding for those purposes as of Saturday.

The upper chamber held that line even as negotiations in the Legislature reached the highest level, with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner hammering out final changes through the weekend.

Of note, the Senate did provide the Department of Corrections with funding in its own sprinkle list. The upper chamber provides $2 million for private prison operations. There’s also close to $3 million to cover an increase in the community-based treatment provider rate.

Whether the upper chamber moved at all on raises for corrections officers or maintenance staff statewide will become clear when a full budget is published. The Legislature will vote on the budget this week. There is a 72-hour “cooling off” period required by the state constitution before they can vote on the budget.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Elliott Offen

    May 1, 2023 at 4:15 pm

    Florida prisons are some of the worst in the country. Underfunded, understaffed, old facilities, corruption, lack of services, slave labor, and a homicide or suicide every 14 days. This is not just because bad boys will be bad boys. This is because these places are designed to be bad. That’s all fine and dandy until it’s one of your kids who fks up and ends up there. One dude a few years back got a year and six months sentence for driving on a suspended license… and was killed in there. He got the death penalty for driving on a suspended license.

  • Ron McAndrew

    May 2, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    This is definitely not a Florida Department of. This is a legislative problem. Until our politicians wake up and smell the coffee instead of a burning prison this problem will not go away. The department has the great leadership they need but they’re working with empty pockets

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