2020 Budget Turkey Watch Report

An analysis of the transparency and accountability of the budget process

The 2020 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 was started in 1983 and 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 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 and oversight and accountability. 

The $93.2 billion budget passed by the Florida House and Senate for FY2020-21 contains 180 appropriations items worth $136.3 million qualifying as Budget Turkeys. These are only a portion of the record 829 member projects in the budget worth more than one-half billion dollars. 

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