Florida TaxWatch says Gov. Ron DeSantis should veto close to $28 million in projects across South Florida’s tri-county area contained in the 2021-22 state budget.
As DeSantis gives a final review of this year’s budget, TaxWatch recommends cutting more than $16 million in funding for projects in Miami-Dade County, more than $6 million in Broward County, and just over $5 million in Palm Beach County.
The group recommended cutting several large transportation projects, including the largest South Florida project on the list: $3.65 million for the Blum Ambulatory Greene Cancer Center Road in Miami-Dade County.
Florida TaxWatch also suggested vetoes for three projects valued at $3 million each: historical infrastructure improvement in central Palm Beach County, pedestrian priority zones in Miami-Dade’s Little Havana community and funding for The Underline linear park in Miami-Dade, which runs underneath the Metrorail.
Each year, TaxWatch analysts issue a report highlighting projects they argue should be stricken from the budget. “The Budget Turkey label does not signify judgment of a project’s worthiness,” the group’s report explains.
“Instead, the review focuses on the Florida budget process, and the purpose of the Budget Turkey label is to ensure that all appropriations using public funds receive the deliberation, debate, and accountability they deserve. While a project may be worthwhile, Budget Turkeys tend to serve a limited (not statewide) area, are often not core functions of government, are more appropriately funded with local or private dollars and can circumvent competitive bidding or selection and oversight and accountability.”
Transportation projects make up a bulk of the TaxWatch list, both across the state and in South Florida specifically.
“For years, Florida TaxWatch has recommended that the Legislature stop earmarking these projects to allow the process to decide which projects have the highest return on investment and to ensure they are considered within the state’s coordinated transportation planning process,” the report reads.
The turkey list includes three additional South Florida projects, which secured $1 million in funding: improvements for Blount Road in Broward’s Pompano Beach area, funding for the South Royal Poinciana Boulevard median in Miami Springs and money for Miami-Dade’s Ludlam Trail Corridor.
The organization also recommended eliminating $3.5 million set to be sent to Nova Southeastern University in Broward County for clinic-based outreach. That money was added back to the budget via the sprinkle list process. TaxWatch flagged that and similar projects, as they were “added at the very last minute” despite being shot down earlier in the 2021 Legislative Session.