See the 2023 Budget Turkey Report

An Introduction to Budget Turkeys and the Sprinkle List

2023 Budget Turkey Report

What IS a Budget Turkey and How Does Florida TaxWatch Identify Them?

Sprinkle Lists, the newest transparency workaround?

About the Budget Turkey Watch Report

The Budget Turkey Watch report is Florida TaxWatch's annual review of Florida's upcoming budget. The report was started in 1983 and promotes 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 scrutiny. The budget review identifies appropriations that circumvent transparency and accountability standards in public budgeting.

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 process.

The Budget Turkey label does not signify judgment of a project’s worthiness. Instead, the review focuses 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. While a project may be worthwhile, Budget Turkeys tend to serve a limited (not statewide) area, are often not core functions of government, are more appropriately funded with local or private dollars, and can circumvent competitive bidding or selection as well as oversight and accountability.

Florida TaxWatch is not recommending that the Governor veto any specific project on the Budget Turkey list. We are providing this report to assist the Governor in his budget deliberations, recommending that he not only consider the value and efficacy of a project, but also if it meets turkey-criteria, if it addresses a core state government function, and if it was selected through a fair process that promotes the best interest of taxpayers statewide.

A project that circumvents established review and selection processes or has completed the established process but is funded ahead of much higher priority projects (as determined by the selection process);
Appropriations that are inserted in the budget during conference committee meetings, meaning they did not appear in either the final Senate or House budgets;
Appropriations from inappropriate trust funds; duplicative appropriations; and appropriations contingent on legislation that did not pass; and/or
Appropriations that may have been in the House or Senate budget, but were removed by agreement in conference, only to be added back at the last minute through the supplemental appropriation (“sprinkle”) lists.


Florida TaxWatch recommends that the Governor fully examine all the projects and line-items highlighted in this report, including the sprinkle list and all member project funding in the new budget to determine if the state would be better served by funding these projects or by returning some of the funds to the treasury for subsequent budgets or tax relief.

Statutory Competitive Selection Processes – The lack of a systematic review and selection process in some areas of the budget has become a glaring problem. Member projects are peppered throughout the budget, but there are several line-items where one can count on numerous projects ending up. Of course, this year, there is a record number of projects and funding.

To make sure that these projects are prioritized; funded with a transparent, coordinated, statewide vision; compete for limited funding fairly; and meet specified requirements to qualify for funding, Florida TaxWatch recommends that, if the Legislature is going to fund such projects, it creates a competitive review and selection process in statute for each of these areas:

  • Water Projects – Line-item 1705A - $433.0 million
  • Local Transportation Projects – Line-item 2042A - $400.7 million
  • Housing and Community Development Projects – Line-item 2336A/2341A - $118.0 million
  • School and Instructional Enhancements – Line-item 100/119 - $45.6 million
  • Private College and University Projects – Line-item 58/59A - $42.2 million
  • Special Local Law Enforcement Projects – Line-item 1275/1281A - $90.8 million
  • Local Fire Service – Line-item 2479/2485A - $86.4 million
  • Economic Development Projects – Line-item 2350A - $7.4 million
  • Local Emergency Management Facilities – Line-item 2681/2710 - $94.3 million
  • Workforce Projects – Line-item 2297/2304A - $11.9 million

Supplemental Funding Lists (“Sprinkle Lists”) – It has become routine for the budget conference process to end with each chamber accepting the other chamber’s supplemental funding lists worth more than $100 million each. This is done without public debate or discussion and the lists have been developed and agreed to in private. The lists include increased funding for some projects already in the budget and can also introduce new projects or add back projects that conferees agreed to remove, sometimes including items that had not been discussed before. Like many things in this year’s budget, the sprinkle lists grew to (by far) record size. This year, the two lists totaled $670 Million. Soon after the budget was passed, Florida TaxWatch released a report recommending that the Governor look closely at these projects during his veto deliberations. The report also highlighted 38 projects, worth $53.3 million, that were removed from the budget during conference negotiations, only to be added back at the last minute through the sprinkle lists. 

Local Transportation Projects – Historically, almost every project in this line-item has been put on the Budget Turkey list. This is because these projects circumvent the process that develops the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) Work Program and since they are usually funded by the State Transportation Trust Fund (STTF), they take limited transportation dollars away from the vetted and comprehensively planned projects that are in the Work Program.

In our past Budget Turkey reports, Florida TaxWatch has urged the Legislature, if they choose to continue funding these local member projects, to use general revenue to avoid impacting the Work Program. Florida TaxWatch commends the 2022 and 2023 Legislatures for heeding our recommendation and using GR to fund the entire list of projects. However, that recommendation was based on the normal funding level of tens of millions of dollars, not the nearly one-half billion dollars that has been appropriated in both this year and last year’s budgets. This is far too many projects to fund without a statutorily established competitive selection process (see our recommendations later in this report.) Moreover, when the surplus of general revenue the Legislature has been enjoying the last couple of years returns to normal levels, it is likely the STTF will be used to continue funding local member transportation projects. This year, because these projects do not negatively impact the Work Program, they are not on the Budget Turkey list (with the exception of three mentioned above that were removed from the budget during conference, only to be added-back by the sprinkle lists). Still, we expect there are many projects in this line-item that warrant special veto consideration.

2023 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps, Taxpayer Guide

This is the Florida TaxWatch annual independent review of Florida’s FY2023-24 budget process. The report was started in 1983 and promotes 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 thorough, thoughtful, transparent, and accountable.  Every appropriation should receive proper deliberation and public scrutiny.  This includes member-requested projects.  

Florida taxpayers deserve transparent budget process

Op-Ed by Dominic Calabro

/ Categories: Budget Turkeys, Op-Eds

The state budget is the only law that the Florida Legislature is constitutionally required to pass every year. The process begins with the agencies’ budget requests, and then the governor submits his budget recommendations to the Legislature. The Senate and House of Representatives then pass their preferred version of the budget, and the two chambers negotiate a compromise during budget conference. Finally, this becomes the General Appropriations Act.

$670 Million Added to the New State Budget Through the Sprinkle Lists Deserves Close Scrutiny During the Governor’s Veto Deliberations

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

Florida’s new state budget for FY2023-24 carries a price tag of $117.0 billion, which is a 6.2 percent increase over current spending. The budget also contains a few billion dollars in spending that is technically appropriated for FY2022-23, so it is not included in the $117.0 billion total. 

Budget Sprinkle Lists Diminish Confidence in the Budget Process and Should Be Discontinued

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

Ten years ago, the Legislature began a budgeting practice that is not in the interest of sound budgeting, transparency, thoughtful deliberation, or the taxpayers of Florida. The practice in question is the introduction of Supplemental Funding lists. These have - come to be commonly known, and even referred to by legislators, as the “Sprinkle Lists” – as in the “sprinkling” of millions of additional dollars for appropriations projects around the state at the last-minute during budget conference. 

The What, Why, and How of the Florida TaxWatch Budget Turkey Watch Report

/ Categories: Research, Budget Turkeys, Budget/Approps

The annual Florida TaxWatch Budget Turkey Watch Report was started in 1983 and promotes oversight and integrity in the state’s budgeting process. The report identifies appropriations that circumvent proper review, transparency, and accountability standards and is presented to the Governor for inclusion in his or her veto considerations