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Florida TaxWatch targets $107 million of 'budget turkeys' in proposed state budget

3:45 PM, May 16, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida TaxWatch is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to consider vetoing more than $100 million in projects in the proposed budget for next year.

The group announced its annual list of so-called budget turkeys on Thursday.

The turkeys include $4 million for a Clearwater Aquarium film project and $250,000 for the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry.

Overall, the list targets 107 projects worth $107 million.

State lawmakers argue they control spending of tax dollars and many items on the turkey list are very worthwhile, such as Holocaust education and literacy programs.

TaxWatch said the list is not about the worthiness of projects; it's about the legislative process.

Kurt Wenner of TaxWatch said the turkeys were added to the budget at the last minute or they bypassed established procedures for review.

"If they are good projects, they should be added up front. They should not be waited until the very last minute when people don't know. There needs to be information attached to them. What the turkey watch is, we cannot think about, 'Well, this really sounds great.' And we're not going to leave something off the list because it's something that either we support the concept or it's something that sounds like a good thing."

Wenner adds that the Legislature showed some restraint this year.

Lawmakers had a budget surplus but the list of turkeys is much smaller than last year's $171 million of questionable projects that made the list.

Senate President Don Gaetz delivered a stinging rebuke to the TaxWatch report.

"The TaxWatch list is built on the unconstitutional perversion that if an appropriation isn't recommended by unelected agency officials it shouldn't be considered in conference by elected legislators. This is an arrogance of the elite who spend too much time in Tallahassee and Washington listening to the echoes of their own invented wisdom and thinking they're hearing the voice of God. It is little wonder that TaxWatch is irrelevant 364 days a year."

Dave Heller

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