September 25, 2017

Press Release

Budget Turkey Report for 2014

| 5/23/2014

Florida taxpayers are set to pay $120 million for projects inserted into the budget and not publicly vetted by lawmakers next year, according to the 2014 Budget Turkey Report t from Florida TaxWatch. The annual independent budget review highlights appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting

"Florida TaxWatch commends the Legislature for creating a balanced budget that meets the needs of many of our citizens and returns money to Florida's hard-working taxpayers through tax cuts, but as the taxpayers' watchdog, it is our responsibility to disclose each of the projects that did not receive adequate scrutiny during the budget process," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog.

Over-criminalization in FloridaThe "Budget Turkey" label does not signify judgment of a project's worthiness or value. Florida TaxWatch identifies the list of Budget Turkeys in order to promote transparency in public budgeting and encourage meaningful legislative review of all appropriations.

"It is understandable that lawmakers would like to share this year's budget surplus with their local constituents through member projects," said Kurt Wenner, Vice President for Tax Research at Florida TaxWatch. "However, in order to ensure transparency during appropriations and that proper accountability standards are in place for these projects, the Legislature should establish a competitive selection process for them to receive funding."

The 2014 Budget Turkeys make up less than one-quarter of one percent of this year's $77.1 billion budget, which is the largest in Florida's history. Governor Rick Scott is required to sign the budget and exercise his constitutional line-item veto authority and responsibility before June 4th. This TaxWatch Report calls for the Governor to carefully consider the Budget Turkeys during his veto process.

"The Budget Turkey Report highlights projects that require additional review by the Governor to determine adequate need," said Robert E. Weissert, Esq., Chief Research Officer and General Counsel. "While many of these projects serve important local and statewide functions, maintaining the integrity of the budget process is vital to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."

In addition to listing the Budget Turkeys, the Report contains highlights from this year's Legislative budgeting process, emphasizing the lack of transparency during the appropriation of projects appearing on the list.

Though the Legislature was fortunate to have a surplus exceeding $1 billion, they were unable to fund several budget priorities, including provisions of the 2014 House and Senate Work Plan. The Report provides alternative options for the use of the $120 million, including increasing per student funding by 3.24 percent rather than 2.61 percent, reducing the Agency for Persons With Disabilities' Waitlist by more than 4,000 individuals, and increasing state employee salaries by more than $1,000.

"The projects included in this year's Budget Turkey Report were appropriated outside of transparent budgeting channels which provide standards for accountability," said Calabro. "This year's Budget Turkeys cost taxpayers more than $120 million of their hard-earned money that could have gone to fund other projects that demonstrated need."

» Read the full report here: "2014 Budget Turkeys"

Florida Tax Watch

Florida TaxWatch is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan research institute that over its 33-year history has become widely recognized as the watchdog of citizens' hard-earned tax dollars.  Its mission is to provide the citizens of Florida and public officials with high quality, independent research and education on government revenues, expenditures, taxation, public policies and programs and to increase the productivity and accountability of Florida state and local government. Its support comes from homeowners and retirees, small and large businesses, philanthropic foundations, and professional associations. On the web at

Tags: Banking & Finance, Government/Politics & Law, Florida TaxWatch

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  • Breaking News: Nova Southeastern University calls $200 million commitment from Patel Family 'transformational'

    Today, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) announces the largest philanthropic gift in its history from Tampa-area cardiologist Dr. Kiran C. Patel and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Pallavi Patel. The commitment from the Patel Family Foundation includes a $50 million gift and an additional $150 million for real estate and facilities. The money will be used to expand the university's programs in osteopathic medicine and health care sciences, and also to develop a new 27-acre campus for NSU in Clearwater, Fla. The Patels are renowned in Florida for their philanthropy, community service and entrepreneurship.

    “This gift and additional investment will enrich NSU’s ability to educate highly-qualified physicians and health care professionals who understand how the medical disciplines can and must work together. These future leaders will represent the cultural diversity of our region, our nation and our world so that they can better serve their patients and communities,” said NSU President Dr. George Hanbury.

    Their $50 million gift, one of the seven-largest to any Florida university in history, catapults NSU to more than 84% of its goal to raise $250 million by 2020 for its Realizing Potential philanthropic campaign.

    Read more at the news release, here.

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