Published: Feb 14, 2012 11:03 AM EST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Senate has kept alive a South Florida prison privatization bill by voting down an amendment that would have killed the plan in favor of more legislative study. The full Senate on Monday voted down the amendment to the bill (SB 2038) by 21-19 after more than two hours of debate. Sen. Dennis Jones had previously opposed privatization but switched his vote. The Seminole Republican did not debate the amendment on the floor. Nearly 4,000 prison employees' jobs in at least 26 facilities could be affected. Lawmakers in support of privatization say it could save at least $16.5 million a year. They're looking to plug a more than one-billion-dollar hole in this year's state budget. Opponents say savings aren't guaranteed.