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TAXWATCH TURKEYS: Calhoun, Liberty school projects make the list

For the second year in a row, despite another multibillion budget shortfall, a surprisingly large number of member projects and other projects historically referred to as “turkeys” found their way into the FY 2012-13 state budget, including two from Calhoun and Liberty counties. Florida TaxWatch has identified 159 appropriations (the largest number of projects since 2007), costing taxpayers $170.9 million. This includes 16 economic development projects worth $21.3 million for which a veto is not recommended, but requiring further review and clearer accountability. Local projects identified as turkeys include: - CALHOUN COUNTY – Fixed Capital Outlay – Carr Elementary and Middle School,$300,000; Added in conference. Not funded through public school construction process. (Conference budget only) - LIBERTY COUNTY – Fixed Capital Outlay – Liberty County Public School, $150,000; Not funded through public school construction process. Turkey, vetoed last year. (Senate budget) The annual Florida TaxWatch Turkey Watch spotlights legislative projects placed in the budget without the proper opportunity for public review and debate, which circumvent lawfully established procedures, or which non-competitively benefit a very limited special interest or local area of the state. Last year, Governor Rick Scott vetoed over 90% of the items identified as turkeys, and over the more than two decades of the Turkey Watch Report, Florida Governors have vetoed approximately $2 billion in projects that have appeared on the Florida TaxWatch turkey list. The “budget turkey” label does not necessarily judge a project’s worthiness, but instead is focused on the budget process, mainly instances where the Legislature has not followed its own policies and procedures to ensure the highest standards of accountability and government efficiency.

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