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Ouch! Senate Prez Gaetz TaxWatch smackdown

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 by Dara Kam

The ever-acerbic Senate President Don Gaetz spared no venom for Florida TaxWatch in a response to the business-backed group’s budget “turkey” list released earlier today.

The self-proclaimed government watchdog’s method of targeting the turkeys – which include $14 million for a Gulf Coast State College Panama City campus – that haven’t been approved by state agencies “is built on the unconstitutional perversion” that Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a statement.

“This is an arrogance of the elite who spend too much time in Tallahassee and Washington listening to the echoes of their own invented wisdom and thinking they’re hearing the voice of God,” Gaetz went on.

Read Gaetz’s rant after the jump.

Business-backed Florida TaxWatch spots $107 million in budget turkeys

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Florida TaxWatch, the business-backed non-profit that calls itself a “government watchdog,” has targeted $107 million “turkeys” they’re suggesting Gov. Rick Scott red-line as he ponders the state’s $74.5 billion spending plan.

The 107 projects add up to just one-half of one percent of the total budget, and about $60 million less than the group identified last year.

TaxWatch’s pinpointed $9,330,422 in Palm Beach County projects, including:
_ $450,000 of the $1 million lawmakers steered to Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s violence intervention program;
_ $6.5 million for Palm Beach State College’s proposed Loxahatchee Groves campus;
_ $1,280,422 for Place of Hope at the Haven campus;
_ $100,000 for a nicotine addiction drug treatment program at Scripps Research Institute;
_ $1 million for Glades Area Street resurfacing in Belle Glade.

Two Treasure Coast projects also made TaxWatch’s hit list: $2 million for renovations at Indian River State College at the St. Lucie west campus and $200,000 for interior renovations of the Golden Gate building in Martin County.

The group also tagged a $14 million Gulf Coast State College project for a Panama City campus, something Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, wants built.

And Senate budget chief Joe Negron’s

TaxWatch identifies “turkeys” as items that were put into the budget at the last minute or without public vetting, which “circumvent lawfully established procedures,” or which steer money to special interests or local areas without going through the bidding process.

Scott has until May 24 to act on the budget. The Republican, who is running for reelection, slashed a whopping $181 million from the spending plan his first year on the job, and cut $63 million last year.

TaxWatch finds $203 million in pork in budget

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida TaxWatch, the business-backed government spending watchdog, spotted $203 million in “turkeys” in the $69.7 billion budget awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature – and line-item vetoes.

That’s the most pork in the budget the group, which conducts the exercise annually, found since 2007, according to a press release.

Unfortunately for Palm Beach County, included in the pork projects is $7.3 million for a Wellington-area campus of Palm Beach State College. Gov. Charlie Crist last year vetoed $19 million – the total cost of the project – for the new campus.

Also on the list: $1.4 million for the Glades Senior Community Center. The county wants to convert the existing senior center to a homeless resource center.

Both projects are Palm Beach County priorities.

Here’s the full list.

Scott spending more than $7.3 million a year on spin doctors

Monday, April 25th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott – whose mantra is “Let’s Get to Work” – is paying $7.3 million to 126 aides for image-boosting and spin, according to a report released by Florida TaxWatch today.

Scott also hired 71 legislative affairs – many of them former campaign workers – staff for a total of $4.3 million a year. On the campaign trail, Scott questioned the need for legislative affairs staff.

The TaxWatch report comes as lawmakers are grappling with slashing $3.8 billion from last year’s budget.

The combined costs for Scott’s PR pros – including four in his own office – and the LADs is $11.7 million. Without benefits, that comes to $975,048 per month, or $32,056 per day.

“There is no excuse for government waste at any level at any time,” TaxWatch president Dominic Calabro said in a statement. “Every tax dollar spent should gain the highest return for the taxpayer. In a budget year where critical programs are being cut to balance the budget, it is time that our leaders take a serious look at all positions, determine which are essential to the mission of our government and cut the excess. This is what Florida families and businesses have been doing and must continue to streamline. The levels and number of administrative and support bureaucratic staff has been forced to shrink, but too many in our state bureaucracy defy the gravity of downsizing.”

TaxWatch is a business-backed Tallahassee organization whose mission is to ferret out wasteful government spending.

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