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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

$15 million in budget 'turkeys' now before Crist

The budget turkey is a rare find this year.

TaxWatch's annual list identifies 10 projects worth $15 million that it says bypassed the normal appropriation process. "The Legislature was forced to make a number of very difficult decisions this year because of the state's financial situation," said Dominic Calabro, president of the organization.

This year's total is down from $110 million last year and is the lowest amount since at least 1994. There were three no-turkey years: 1991, 1992 and 2003.

The 10 projects, most of which were funded through trust funds, include $100,000 for the task force on African-American History; $300,000 for the Hillsborough Association of Retarded Citizens; $1 million for the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis; $8 million for an infrastructure pilot program for counties and schools; $3 million for a pilot to make traffic signals less prone to hurricanes; and $125,000 for the Holocaust museum in St. Petersburg.

The full list and TaxWatch report is here. The group cautions that not all projects are bad but that they should not be added during conference or as part of normal budgeting. It is now up to Gov. Charlie Crist to decide whether to veto the so-called turkeys.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said the $8 million for schools was part of the Senate budget, not added during the last-minute conference as TaxWatch stated. "That's an absolute lie," Fasano said. He said the money is to build roads around schools that are having trouble keeping up with growth.

But TaxWatch's Kurt Wenner said it qualifies as a turkey anyway because it was not in the Department of Transportation work program. "They're going to have to take that money from another project," Wenner said. "It's still a turkey."

Below, see video of the overall turkey list and why funding for the University of South Florida did not make the list, even though some argue that accelerated PECO funding circumvents the process.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:02pm]


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