How the 2023 Turkey Watch report and our tax dollars are related

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The 2023 Turkey Watch report is out now.

It is Florida TaxWatch’s annual independent review of the state budget, which analyzes exactly where our tax dollars are going.

There are 218 projects on the group’s turkey list.

Fourteen of them are in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Hendry counties.

To get on the turkey list, TaxWatch identified items in the state budget it believes do not significantly impact the state, and the group asks that Gov. Ron DeSantis closely scrutinize them.

Florida TaxWatch added in a statement to WINK News, “These projects bypass the standard budget process that allows for public (taxpayer) input and debate. And because of the local nature of so many of these projects, there’s also a concern that they could have been better funded with local and/or private dollars, rather than state funds.”  

The Sanibel Slough water quality and resiliency project is one of the budget items on the Turkey list.

The project promises to reduce the impact of storm surge on Sanibel, among other things. It is budgeted to cost taxpayers $1 million.

Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza said that money could make or break Sanibel come hurricane season.

“I respect the work of the Florida TaxWatch and the turkey list that they put out. I think they got it completely wrong in this case,” Souza said, “and it’s likely somebody who’s never been to Sanibel and certainly hasn’t been to Sanibel since Hurricane Ian that this is an important project because it’s about flood capacity, storm water resiliency and also about reducing nutrient load into our bay which can contribute to red tides.”

Souza said he believes Gov. DeSantis understands the damage Sanibel endured, and he hopes the project is left in the budget.

Last year, DeSantis vetoed 71 of the 166 budget turkeys.

To learn about more projects on the Turkey Watch report, check out the videos above.

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