The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

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2017 Budget Turkey Watch Report

The 2017 Budget Turkey Watch Report: An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process is the result of an annual independent review of Florida’s new budget by Florida TaxWatch. The report promotes additional oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process based on the principle that: because money appropriated by the Legislature belongs to the taxpayers of Florida, the process must be transparent and accountable, and every appropriation should receive deliberation and public debate.

The $82.4 billion budget passed by the Florida House and Senate for FY2017-18 contains 111 appropriations items qualifying as Budget Turkeys worth $177.8 million. Most of these (79 projects worth $139.4 million) are transportation projects that are not in the Department of Transportation Work Program. Because new appropriations rules resulted in many member projects being heard in committee and very few projects being added during the budget conference committee process, the budget contains approximately 600 additional member projects worth more than $425 million that do not qualify as Budget Turkeys.

Budget Turkeys are items, 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 and subjected to the budget committee process or that circumvented established processes.

The Budget Turkey label does not signify judgment of a project’s worthiness. Instead, the review focuses solely on the Florida budget process, and the purpose of the Budget Turkey label is to ensure that all appropriations using public funds receive the deliberation, debate, and accountability they deserve.

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