Legislators spread the money around

During this year’s legislative session only three projects for Duval County landed on the Turkey Watch list prepared annually by Florida TaxWatch but the total cost of them was substantial.

The biggest one, however, did not survive the process unscathed.

“Turkeys” in Florida are the equivalent of pork-barrel spending in other legislative arenas. The euphemism for them in the Capitol is “appropriations projects.”

Included in the state’s $117.5 billion budget this year were $852 million worth of turkeys.

TaxWatch always acknowledges that some of the spending might be worthwhile. But projects are designated turkeys when they do not go through the normal legislative process and instead are inserted in the budget arbitrarily by political powerful members or are projects that should be funded by local government.

Included in the turkeys were appropriations from the “sprinkle list.” This is a relatively new form of pork-barrel spending developed about 10 years ago, wherein each house agrees to accept a list “supplemental funding” from the other house — sprinkling money around the state.

Duval appropriations that earned the turkey appellation were:

  • $23 million for the Jaxport Crane Modernization Program.
  • $5 million for the Museum of Science and History.
  • $500,000 for the North Florida School of Special Education Transitional Housing.

Dade County often gets the largest amount of turkey loot. This year it was only $16.8 million, by Eye on Jacksonville’s calculations.

It was eclipsed this year by neighboring St. Johns County, which got an eye-opening $48.25 million. That included $35 million for historic preservation of the Hotel Ponce de Leon.

Duval placed third, followed by Dade, Flagler and Glades counties.

The turkey list is published before the governor goes through the budget, pruning spending items he does not like, so some of the appropriations on the list do not stand.

Gov. Ron DeSantis blocked $950 million in spending with his veto pen – including $3 million of the money for Jaxport’s crane project.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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