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Florida TaxWatch - 2024 Budget Turkey Report: 450 Appropriations Worth $854.6 Million Identified as Budget Turkeys

Florida TaxWatch

Florida - Wednesday May 15, 2024: Florida TaxWatch has released its 2024 Budget Turkey Watch Report, an independent review of the state’s $117.5 billion Fiscal Year 2024-25 budget.

The budget for the coming fiscal year has already been approved by Florida lawmakers, but it has not yet been signed by the Governor.

Florida Tax Watch's analysis of the budget identifies 450 appropriations items worth $854.6 million that qualify as Budget Turkeys.

Florida TaxWatch is not recommending that the Governor veto any specific project on the Budget Turkey list. The report is meant to assist the Governor in his budget deliberations, recommending that he not only consider the value and efficacy of a project, but also if it meets turkey-criteria, if it addresses a core state government function, and if it was selected through a fair process that promotes the best interest of taxpayers statewide.

In addition to these Budget Turkeys, the report highlights specific line-items that contain projects totaling $912.2 million that, while not strictly meeting Florida TaxWatch's criteria for the Budget Turkey label, deserve especially close scrutiny by the Governor.

Florida TaxWatch also encourages Gov. DeSantis to provide “especially close scrutiny” to $912.2 million in specific line-items, as well over 1,600 member projects totaling $2.8 billion. These member projects do not qualify as Budget Turkeys, but the government watchdog notes they should be subjected to a statutorily defined competitive review and selection process, ensuring they are prioritized, competing fairly for limited dollars, and funded with a coordinated, statewide vision that allows for important issues – like attracting and retaining a talented workforce in education, manufacturing, and various other industries – to be addressed.

An Explosion in Member Projects
The FY2024-25 budget for the State of Florida once again contains a record number of local member projects—more than 1,600 projects worth approximately $2.8 billion.

This marks the third year in a row that the budget contained at least $2.8 billion in member projects. The amount is even more remarkable when one considers there are 160 legislators. This means each lawmaker was able to secure an average of 10 member projects worth an average of $17.3 million for their home district.

Since most of the projects had both a House and Senate request, it could be argued that each member had almost twice as many requests funded. Of course, some legislators get far fewer projects, and some get much, much more. Over the last eight years, almost $12 billion in member projects have been funded.

Key Highlights:

  • Budget Turkeys: The FY2024-25 budget includes 450 Budget Turkeys, totaling $854.6 million.
  • Additional Scrutiny: Projects totaling $912.2 million, while not qualifying as Budget Turkeys, warrant close examination by the Governor.
  • Proliferation of Member Projects: For the third consecutive year, the budget contains over 1600 local member projects, amounting to approximately $2.8 billion. This surge in member projects highlights the need for a more thorough review and fair selection process.


  • Reform and Limit Member Projects: To promote a transparent and accountable budgeting process, it is essential to establish a competitive review and selection system for local projects.
  • Adhere to Established Processes: The Legislature should follow its own rules and procedures, ensuring that every appropriation receives proper deliberation and public scrutiny.


The Joint Rules of the Florida Legislature prohibit adding a member project in conference. Such projects were not in either of the House or Senate budgets as passed by the chambers, they were added during a conference meeting. Florida TaxWatch notes the lack of transparency that occurs during the conference process. Projects added to the budget during conference are done without public debate, scrutiny, vetting, or vote by legislators, bypassing the normal appropriations subcommittee and committee process.

Historically, Florida TaxWatch has designated virtually all such projects, especially member projects, as Budget Turkeys.

It must be noted that while conference additions used to make up a large portion of our Budget Turkey list, recent legislatures have significantly limited this practice. This year, only one member project was added during the budget conference.


Florida TaxWatch has recommended that the use of supplemental appropriations lists, or “sprinkle lists” be discontinued. It has become tradition, as the very last step in the budget process, for the House and Senate to exchange lists that add hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding to the budget with no public or transparent discussion or debate.

This year, the two sprinkle lists totaled $653.0 million. While some of these supplemental appropriations added funding for established, valuable statewide government programs, many member projects also have their funding increased, sometimes significantly. It is understandable that there can be some money left over when budget negotiations are finished. Adding money to existing programs in this way, while certainly not the best budget practice, is not as bad as adding new projects or increasing member project funding.

The sprinkle lists also add back projects that were removed from the budget during conference negotiations. After both chambers have agreed not to fund a project, these last minute lists, which are not developed in the sunshine, but them back in the budget, often with increased funding and sometimes even more than was requested. Last year’s Budget Turkey Watch report identified 38 projects, worth $53.3 million, that were added back through the sprinkle lists.

This year, Florida TaxWatch identified 89 of these projects, costing taxpayers $171.7 million. Some of these projects received two separate appropriations under two separate line-items—one for operations and one for fixed capital outlay. If they are listed below, neither of the appropriations would have been funded without the sprinkle lists. The local transportation projects listed below (line-item 2069A) are an exception. They were already receiving State Transportation Trust Fund funding and the amount shown is general revenue that was added through the sprinkle lists.

The Florida TaxWatch Budget Turkey criteria are clearly defined. Appropriations must violate sound budgeting practices in at least one of these ways to be designated as a Budget Turkey:

  • A project that circumvents established review and selection process or has completed the established process but is funded ahead of much higher priority projects, as determined by the selection process
  • Appropriations that are inserted in the budget during conference committee meetings, meaning they did not appear in either the final Senate or House budget
  • Appropriations that do not adhere to the rules adopted by the House and Senate for appropriations (member) projects
  • Appropriations that may have been in the House or Senate budget, but were removed by agreement in conference, only to be added back at the last minute through the supplemental appropriation (“sprinkle”) lists
  • Appropriations from inappropriate trust funds, duplicative appropriations, and appropriations contingent on legislation that did not pass.

Since 1983, Florida TaxWatch has provided Floridians with this additional level of oversight by identifying individual appropriations projects that circumvent or violate a thoughtful and thorough legislatively established budget process.
Florida TaxWatch Board Chairman Piyush Patel said, “Florida TaxWatch’s Budget Turkey Watch Report is a one-of-a-kind publication that serves as an invaluable resource for taxpayers, as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis. We trust that he will carefully consider all the projects we identified, including Turkeys, member projects, and more, and rely on the information we provided to help ensure those that remain in the final state budget will effectively improve the lives of Floridians far and wide.”

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said, “Over the years, the term ‘Budget Turkey’ has become synonymous with Florida TaxWatch, and we are extremely proud of that. It is both an honor and a privilege to produce this annual list of potential state-funded projects that have not undergone the thorough review process Florida’s taxpayers demand. When considering the budget, we strongly encourage Gov. DeSantis to assess each project we flagged – Turkey or otherwise – and determine whether its funding is counter to good budgeting practices; it addresses a core state government function; and/or it was selected through a fair process that promotes the best interests of taxpaying citizens across the state.”

About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute, and the trusted “eyes and ears” of Florida taxpayers for more than 45 years, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on taxpayers and businesses. FTW is supported by its membership via voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled FTW to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the taxpayers it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit