Jacksonville taxpayers can take some pride in the local legislative delegation.
Based on this year’s Turkey Report from Florida Tax Watch, Duval County members of the Florida Legislature were among the least voracious at raiding the state treasury.
Tax Watch does a great public service by examining legislative appropriation each year and finding those that have been slipped through without the usual scrutiny.
It is careful to note that Tax Watch is not issuing any opinion on the worth of the projects funded by the expenditures – only the method.
Expenditures qualify as “turkeys” – a Florida term for what are called pork barrel projects in other contexts – if they circumvent the usual reviews, are inserted during conference committee deliberations or come from trust funds designated for other purposes.
Compared to the greedy politicians in other parts of the state such as Dade, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas and St. Johns counties, Duval’s elected representatives insinuated little largesse into the $93 billion budget.
Manatee County managed to score nearly $23 million in funds. Dade County got about $18 million. St. Johns got more than $9 million. Hillsborough got $7 million.
Duval’s total on the turkey list was $4.9 million.
The five Duval projects on the list are: $1.5 milliion for the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, $1 million for autonomous transit AV technology, $900,000 for charter school safety zone improvements and $750,000 each for FEC corridor rail improvements and pedestrian crossing installation.
Delegation members are: Sens. Aaron Bean and Audrey Gibson, Reps. Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough, Tracie Davis, Kimberly Daniels, Wyman Duggan and Jason Fischer.
Some might take the short-sighted view that Duval missed out because the other counties got money and Duval did not.
But Duval got plenty of money from the state through the usual and normal procedures. It is hard to pin that number down but millions of state dollars are coming to Duval County for roads, schools and other legitimate purposes.
And, contrary to what some think, it is not “free money’ just because it is rained upon the city from Tallahassee, any more than money from Washington, D.C., comes out of a magical fountain.
There is no reason to take pride in pirating public funds just because you can.
Gov. Ron DeSantis should wield his veto pen to protect the integrity of the process. Duval taxpayers don’t need to be paying for things that taxpayers in Dade, Palm Beach and other wealthy counties can and should be funding.