Rodeos, the evils of hazing and more taxpayer turkeys from Florida TaxWatch

When it comes to state budgeting, one man’s turkey is another man’s bottom-line, can’t-live-without necessity.

And the 2015 Florida TaxWatch list of budget turkeys hatched this last legislative session includes quite a few items it’s hard to argue against: a meals program for the elderly, for instance, and desperately needed infrastructure improvements in the Glades.

But as the TaxWatch authors take pains to point out, the turkey list has nothing to do with the value of the projects.

Rather, the conservative-minded advocacy group cites the fact that some projects duplicated others, or were stuffed into the budget at the last minute, or were never discussed in committee hearings. In short, they were added to the state’s multi-billion dollar budget without a whole lot of taxpayer scrutiny.

Among those that TaxWatch believes would have benefited from a lot more public discussion and a lot less haste:

  • $1 million for an anti-hazing course at a public university
  • $50,000 for outdoor fitness equipment at a Volusia County park
  • $154,000 for a Key West American Legion Post
  • $350,000 earmarked for two rodeos.

TaxWatch cites committee meetings where information wasn’t provided to the public until after the meeting adjourned – or in some cases, not provided at all. Just before the budget was adopted, they point out, an additional $300 million in projects were added.

Not that all of the turkeys survived.

Gov. Rick Scott chopped and chopped: The $350,000 for the rodeos was vetoed. So was the American Legion Post funding.

Then again, so was the $400,000 water infrastructure for the Glades.

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