$670 Million Added to the New State Budget Through the Sprinkle Lists Deserves Close Scrutiny During the Governor’s Veto Deliberations
There is much to applaud in the new budget. It is record-breaking in many ways, but it is not all positive, including funding the largest number of local member projects in history—more than 1,500. Considering there are only 160 legislators, the number of member projects in the budget is even more remarkable. As we point out in our annual Budget Turkey Watch report, many member projects are worthwhile, sometimes critical. Others are not. Regardless of the value of any project, they should all get the review and deliberation taxpayers deserve when their money is being spent. In addition, they should follow any established competitive selection process that the Legislature has established for similar projects.
The budget also contains $670 million added at the last minute through Supplemental Funding Initiatives, which have come to be known as the “sprinkle lists.” During the last ten years, it has become routine for the budget conference process to end with each chamber accepting the other’s sprinkle list, worth more than an average of $120 million for each chamber – or a combined average of $285 million. These lists are developed and agreed to in private by House and Senate leadership, and without any public debate or discussion.
Florida TaxWatch recommends that the Governor fully examine the sprinkle list and member project funding in the new state budget and, in the future, the use of sprinkle lists be discontinued. This practice does not align with sound budgeting processes, fiscal transparency, thoughtful deliberation, or with the best interests of the taxpayers of the state of Florida.