Taxwatch Group Urges Scott to Veto 'Turkeys'

Florida Taxwatch asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto 159 projects in the state budget because, the group said, they appeared without going through proper channels.

The projects tota $170 million, and many were added in the final round of negotiations over the spending plan.

Florida Taxwatch President Dominic Calabro said the veto list is wide-ranging and includes such "turkeys" as aviation projects, a bus project, and a science and technology building for a state college.

Taxwatch defines a "turkey" as something that might be good public policy but didn’t go through the proper process.

The list includes $250,000 for the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida, which the group said was added in conference, was not on the approved funding list and did not go through the grant process.

The biggest local project to make the list is the $5 million in Gulf County for bulkhead repairs for Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern. The group says the project is not in the work program and didn't go through the grant process.

Another project to make the list is the west end bridge crossing in Walton County. The group says the $500,000 was vetoed last year and would fund repairs to a local facility. It's also not in the work program.

“A hundred thirty-five million dollars could increase per-student funding of kindergarten through 12th grade by $47 per student," he said. "That’s a lot of money.”

There are 23 local water projects on the list, totaling $19 million.

The biggest single item on the recommended veto list is $14 million for a Public Safety Institute at Brevard Community College in Brevard County. Next was $10 million for economic development on the Space coast. Both projects are in the Senate president’s district and demonstrate the clout presiding officers can wield.

“There’s a number of them where some of the most powerful legislators are," Calabro said. "That’s just how it is. It’s always been that way.”

A total of 7-panhandle projects made Taxwatch's list of Budget Turkeys.

The largest is the five million dollars allocated for bulkhead repair at the port in Gulf County.
Taxwatch says its not in the work program and did not go through the grant process.

Taxwatch also flagged a quarter million dollars for the Science and Discovery Center (Formerly the Jr. Museum) in Panama City, for not being on the approved funding list. It was added in conference and did not go through the grant process.

The group is also questioning a 1-point-6 million dollar appropriation to train university students for two medical clinics in the Panhandle. Taxwatch wants to know who will pay the operating costs of these clinics in the future.

TaxWatch Turkeys
$5,000,000 Port Bulkheads (Gulf)
$250,000 Sci./Disc.Center (Bay) (Formerly Jr. Museum)
$1,600,000 Clinics (Panhandle)
$500,000 West End Bridge (Walton)
$300,000 Carr Schools (Calhoun)
$150,000 Public Schools (Liberty)
$350,000 Stem Valp (Okaloosa)

Scott has until April 21 to issue budget vetoes. Last year, he set a record when he vetoed over $600 million in spending.

This year, Scott has already said there will be fewer vetoes, in part because lawmakers did a better job of allocating funds.

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