Tigers, ‘Turkeys’ and TaxWatch … oh my

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On Tuesday, eight Pinellas legislators were grilled by members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on issues ranging from Medicaid expansion to legislative health insurance costs — and then turned around to rib each other on who had scored the most “turkeys”, aka hometown projects, in the budget.

Florida TaxWatch will be releasing their own (in)famous list of wasteful projects on Thursday, having scoured the $74.5 billion state budget for items that were not vetted through the usual channels or fail to meet their smell test.

Sen. Jack Latvala joked that the TaxWatch report will have a chapter on St. Pete Rep. Darryl Rouson, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

Considering his position on numerous appropriations panels, Rouson was certainly well positioned to engage the process. He sat on the House Appropriations Committee, the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee as the Minority Ranking Member, and served on the Budget Conference – At Large.  He has also been selected by the House Democratic Caucus to lead the caucus in the 2014-16 legislative term, meaning that if Democrats were to gain a majority after the 2014 elections, Rouson would serve as Speaker.

Among the Rouson projects that Latvala may have been referring to, the University of South Florida did well this Session, including $3.5 million for its Interdisciplinary Science Teaching & Research Facility, $10 million for the Heart Health Institute, and $5 million for its St. Pete-based College of Business. 

When asked by the Miami Herald if he and Sen. Jeff Brandes, also of St. Pete, helped push for the money, Rouson replied, “All of us, as a team, had something to do with it.”