TaxWatch has deemed the $1 million in extra funding the sheriff’s office would receive for its Child Protective Investigations Unit as one of its 159 “turkeys” identified this year. In March, the state legislature announced plans to increase the unit’s funding from $4.6 million to $5.6 million.
Investigators with the child protective unit are civilians that investigate child abuse and neglect cases with sheriff's office supervision. The unit is funded by a state grant and does not rely on county taxpayer dollars.
"It is extremely disappointing that any private group would consider a project a turkey that provides us increased resources to protect our children in Pasco against the prescription pill epidemic," Nocco said in a media release. "Before Florida TaxWatch makes such statements, I would ask that they come to Pasco and see for themselves the heartbreaking situations our deputies and child protection investigators deal with every day.”
Pasco’s CPI unit has not had an increase in funding in three years, despite an increase in caseload, Nocco said.
What do you think about the increase? Is it a “turkey” or a necessary expense? Let us know in the comments section.
“This has resulted in not only a lower per capita investigative cost per case, but also in lower salaries for Pasco CPIs compared to their counterparts in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties,” Nocco said. “Pasco County has also had the dubious distinction of having the most newborn babies born addicted to prescription pills in the entire state.”
Florida TaxWatch is a private, nonprofit group that researches how taxpayer dollars are being spent, according to its website. “Our mission is to provide the citizens of Florida with high quality, independent research and education on government revenues, expenditures, taxation, public policies and programs and to increase the productivity and accountability of Florida Government.”
The Turkey Watch list “spotlights legislative projects placed in the budget without the proper opportunity for public review and debate, which circumvent lawfully established procedures, or which noncompetitively benefit a very limited special interest or local area of the state,” the report said.
The 2012 report targets 159 appropriations, which Florida TaxWatch says is the largest number since 2007. The projects are worth $170.9 million.
The projects included are not judged on their merit, the report states. Instead, “the 'budget turkey' label does not condemn a project’s worthiness, but instead focuses on the budget process, including instances where the Legislature has not followed its own policies and procedures to ensure the highest standards of accountability and government efficiency,” according to the report.
What do you think?