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State Auditor Zeigler: Ivey prison plan ‘a bad plan’ — ‘This needs to be stopped and it is not going to be easy’

With an announcement expected in perhaps days revealing the details of Gov. Kay Ivey’s prison build-lease plan, it is starting to garner some opposition given the unknown terms that come with an estimated annual $88 million price tag.

Among those against the plan, which will include three so-called super prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb Counties, is State Auditor Jim Zeigler.

In an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5, Zeigler called on the legislature to stop the Ivey administration from proceeding.

“The Ivey administration has come up with a way to bypass the Alabama Legislature so they will not to get to vote on the new Ivey prison lease plan,” he said. “They will not get any input. It is all being done by the administration. I have a problem with that, but even worse — the plan is a bad plan. Their plan would have contracts let with private companies to construct three super prisons — one in Escambia County, Alabama, one in Bibb County, Alabama, and one in Elmore County, Alabama.”

Zeigler noted the contract would be for 30 years, which at $88 million per year rent would amount to $2.6 billion over those three decades, with the state having no equity once the lease expired.

“This is no way to do business,” Zeigler argued. “A private businessman would have never concocted such a scheme to pay through the nose for 30 years and then own nothing — zero equity in the plan. This needs to be stopped, and it is not going to be easy. Every day that goes by, the Department of Corrections is moving on toward this plan. They’re next going to be letting the contract.  At that point, it is harder and harder to block the thing. The state legislature could block all of this, but it would take some tough medicine — for instance, outlawing this type of scheme or making it illegal. Second, [it could] take $88 million out of the Department of Corrections’ budget and announce your intention to the administration we’re not going to pay that $88 million. Either of those two things could do it. Hopefully, there will be some other ways when the legislature comes back … that they’ll have some way to stop a bad, irresponsible prison plan.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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