Florida Tax Watch releases the 2022 Budget Turkey Watch report
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - The non-profit government watchdog Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released its annual Budget Turkey Watch Report on Thursday.
Since 1983, Florida Tax Watch has searched for so-called “turkeys” in the state’s budget, which are last-minute additions that are not fully subjected to the legislative process.
Per the FTW’s standards, Budget Turkeys can be appropriations inserted in the budget during conference committee meetings (without appearing in either the final Senate or House budget), added back to the budget through the supplemental “sprinkle” lists, derived from inappropriate trust funds, or contingent on legislation that did not pass.
This year’s report identifies 166 Budget Turkeys totaling $281 million, $9.1 million of which went to additions in North Central Florida.
Budget Turkeys in North Central Florida included wastewater facility improvements in Alachua County, sewer projects in Palatka, Inglis, and Ocala, wastewater projects in Starke, and a Potable Reclaimed Water Pilot Project in Clay County.
George S. LeMieux, the Chairman of Florida Tax Watch’s Board of Trustees, was pleased with the low number of turkeys in the record $112 billion budget.
“Given the sheer magnitude of the funds at the legislators’ disposal, [we] thought that there would be a lot of turkeys this year,” said LeMieux, “But the legislature frankly surprised us, and they heeded many of the recommendations we made in the past.”
However, LeMieux warned of a new trend of inappropriate budget additions.
“Nearly $769M was added back to the budget at the very last minute through what are called ‘sprinkle lists’, which are developed and agree to in private,” said LeMieux, “‘sprinkles’ are the new turkeys.
Florida Tax Watch asks Governor DeSantis to scrutinize these projects “on behalf of the people of Florida” when delivering the budget and applying his veto power.
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