Republican Governors Outsource Prisons, Child Support Services, Jobs Agencies
Champions of the free market, Republicans running governor’s offices across the country have outsourced important government services in efforts that have not faired well.
A new report (pdf) from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) found that public operations which provide job services, child support, and prisoner incarceration often weren’t successful from a government standpoint.
The report states that in Ohio, for example, Republican Governor John Kasich worked to privatize the state’s economic development agency. The shift, however, didn’t produce the promised job totals.
Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott made headlines urging drug testing for state employees and welfare recipients, a program which, it turned out, benefited his drug testing company, according to the report.
Scott also privatized state health care services for prison inmates, which reportedly resulted in a substantial increase in inmate deaths. Corizon Health—a prisoner health care provider that had been sued 660 times for malpractice—was awarded a $1.2 billion contract by Scott’s administration. In January 2014, three months after the privatization had been fully implemented, the rate of inmate deaths “shot to a 10-year high,” according to The Palm Beach Post.
“[Scott’s] privatization of Medicaid services benefited the bottom line of private HMOs, who spent $2.54 million lobbying, while shortchanging the most needy,” according to the CMD report. “He also signed bills into law requiring every high school student to take online classes, aiding private firms Pearson, K12 Inc., Connections Academy, and Kaplan, which have spent $2.357 million on lobbying in the state.”
The administration of Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, outsourced prison food services to private contractor Aramark, which resulted in a wave of scandals, “from maggots and food poisoning to sexual encounters and murder for hire,” said the CMD study.
“Large corporations are the winners in this scenario,” said the report, while “taxpayers are the losers” along with “transparency” and “accountability and the public interest.”
Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, said many Republican governors have followed the legislative blueprint of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative activist organization.
“Governors across the nation seem to be reading out of the ALEC playbook, attempting to shrink government by selling off the profitable services to private companies,” Graves said. “While success stories are hard to find, fiascoes are thick on the ground. In state after state, the result has been worse outcomes for the public, scandal, lawsuits, and scorching headlines.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Outsourcing Public Services: Governors Push Privatization, With Disastrous Results (by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams)
Pay to Prey: Governors Facilitate the Predatory Outsourcing of America’s Public Services (Center for Media and Democracy) (pdf)
Outsourcing Probation: A Lucrative and Growing Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
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