Published: Sep 29, 2011 6:02 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A judge is hearing a challenge to the Legislature's plan to privatize 29 prison facilities in 18 South Florida counties.
    
Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford began hearing the case Thursday in Tallahassee.
    
The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents prison guards, is suing.
    
The union contends a 23-page privatization provision in the state budget violates the Florida Constitution and state law.
    
It says the measure should have been considered as a separate bill.
    
A lawyer for the state argued the provision is legal because the Legislature has the authority to decide how state money is spent.
    
Sponsors say going private will save the state millions of dollars.
    
The union disagrees.
    
Up to 3,800 guards could lose their jobs if the prisons are turned over to one or more private companies.

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