by The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee
May 26, 2017
Reforms to the way the Legislature puts its budget together lowered the number of “turkeys” wedged into the spending plan, but there are still some items Gov. Rick Scott should consider vetoing, a Tallahassee-based think tank said Friday.
Florida TaxWatch included $177.8 million worth of spending in its annual “Turkey Watch” report — aimed at identifying projects that were added to the $82.4 billion spending plan under processes the business-backed organization objects to on the grounds of transparency or accountability.
At the same time that there was some progress, TaxWatch said, there were also issues with the way state spending was negotiated.
For example, Wenner said the organization had qualms about how much of the discussion between House and Senate leaders wasn’t public, and he indicated the group was also uneasy with the process that produced a massive education bill (HB 7069) that includes almost $419 million in spending outside the budget.
“Although member projects were more transparent and accountable, I think it’s certainly hard to say that the budget process as a whole was more transparent and accountable than it had been,” Wenner said.
For their part, lawmakers have insisted the process was transparent. Corcoran in particular was fond of touting the project improvements as a sign of the openness.
“Every single thing that you’re seeing in the budget — for the first time since the ’68 (state) constitution, we now see it all,” he told reporters late in the session. “There was nothing that came in late, nothing that came in on the back of a napkin.” [READ MORE]