TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro released the following statement on Governor Scott signing the budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 –
“This afternoon, the Governor signed the 2018-19 General Appropriations Act. The $88.7 billion budget was passed only five days ago. This historically exceptionally fast turnaround time did not allow Florida TaxWatch to fully complete the meticulous review of all appropriations required to produce our annual Budget Turkey Watch report before the Governor exercised the constitutionally provided check-and-balance known as the line-item-veto. We certainly hope the Governor’s hard-working staff had time to duteously review every expenditure of public dollars on behalf of the taxpayers statewide who will be funding these projects.
Budget Turkeys are state tax dollars spent on legislatively directed projects, usually local member projects, placed in individual line-items or accompanying proviso language that are added to the final appropriations bill without being fully scrutinized by the public and subjected to the budget committee process, or that circumvented established grant and other selection processes.
This year’s $88.7 billion budget is chock-full of local appropriations (member) projects. Because of the good rules governing appropriations projects that were adopted last year by the House and Senate, consistent with long-standing TaxWatch recommendations of transparency and good governance, the vast majority of these projects do not qualify as Budget Turkeys under the established Florida TaxWatch criteria.
As TaxWatch has closely followed the budget process through the Session and this year, we know that there are line-items that contain projects that did not go through established selection processes, or were funded above much higher priority items that went through those processes. These items have historically been included in our Budget Turkey report. For example, while the university construction projects generally adhered to that process, there are a number of college construction projects funded in the budget that were ranked much lower than some top priorities that did not get funded.
The budget also contains a startling number of local transportation member projects—nearly 60 projects worth $120 million. These local projects, for which there is no formal evaluation and selection process, are funded from the State Transportation Trust Fund, therefore potentially diverting funds from projects that are in the DOT work program.
Other such areas include Agriculture Education and Promotion Facilities, local parks (FRDAP) and Department of State grants programs for museum and cultural programs and historical resources."
Please click here for more information about the Budget Turkey Watch criteria and Florida TaxWatch recommendations for crafting the next state budget.
About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog for nearly forty years, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses.
Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit http://www.floridataxwatch.org.