Senate Budget Chairman Joe Negron preempted the impending release of Florida TaxWatch’s annual turkey list, likening the watchdog group to armchair quarterbacks.
“If our friends at TaxWatch want to write the state budget,” he said, “they need to go run for state office.”
While the legislature did indeed pass a project-laden $74.5 billion budget, the largest in state history, they nevertheless kept a $2.8 billion reserve, repaid a $300 million cut to the state university system, and added $500 million to the state’s retirement system.
TaxWatch’s list targets appropriations made during conference that did not go through the normal budget process; but to Negron, many of these don’t deserve the “turkey” connotation — such as funding for a center which helps adults with developmental disabilities, or the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.
This isn’t the first time Negron had harsh words for TaxWatch. In 2011 he called their turkey list a “fading media gimmick” that is based on the “mistaken rationale that budget decisions originating from the executive branch come clothed with a presumption of correctness while ideas from the elected representatives of the people should be viewed with suspicion.”
According to TaxWatch, the turkey list does not judge the importance of a project, just the budgetary process it went through.
But considering the list serves as fodder for gubernatorial veto (and indeed, according to TaxWatch, the governor vetoed 90 percent of its 2011 list), importance seems a fair factor to weigh.
To this end, Negron’s message may be as much for Rick Scott as it is to his fellow legislators: “When you go back home,” he said, “don’t let people tell you we went on a spending spree. We didn’t.”