Florida’s Pork Barrel Spending Needs Serious Reform
By Charles Parker // April 1, 2015
About 200 Pork Barrel Projects Being Considered
The Florida Legislature is in the process of reaching a compromise over the 2015-16 budget. This is their primary job. At the halfway point, they are $4.2 billion apart.
Let the bartering begin.
However, one area of budgeting needs some serious reform. Pork barrel spending…bringing home the bacon…local projects…whatever one wants to call it…the process needs to be changed.
Take a quick look at just a few of the potential projects that state legislators are considering:
• Miami International Boat Show re-location – $500,000
• St. Mark’s Lighthouse restoration – $250,000
• Arcadia Rodeo – $250,000
• Circus Arts Conservatory – $1 million
• Restoration of the house where Ma Barker was killed – $400,000
• Norton Museum of Art – $155,000
And, of course, local projects are on their too:
• Parking garage for the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse – $2.25 million
• “Field of Dreams” facility in Palm Bay – $1 million
All told, there are 200 or so of these projects that add up to millions of dollars. In fact, last year Governor Scott used his line-item veto power to cut almost $70 million of these pet projects from the state’s budget.
There is no rhyme or reason how the state’s leaders choose who gets what. We would be naïve to think that any of this funding comes without political payoffs and a lot of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing.
Yes – I understand that our local dollars flow to Tallahassee and we – in turn – hat some of our money back.
And I enjoy plays in Cocoa and think that the recreation facility in Palm Bay for kids with disabilities is an awesome thing.
That’s the problem, though. Everyone all over the state thinks their local projects are worthwhile. Meanwhile, we are spending about $1 billion per year on local projects that could – and probably should – be supported by localities.
I have three solutions. Take your pick.
1. Eliminate all local projects from the state budget and spend the $1 billion on programs that help the poor and homeless – particularly veterans.
2. Eliminate all local projects from the state budget and provide a $1 billion rebate to Florida citizens in the form of vouchers. Each citizen would be provided a list of local projects and could then earmark their portion – in any increments they wish – to whatever project they want to support.
3. Eliminate all local projects from the state budget and rebate counties a percentage of the $1 billion based on their taxpaying population. Let county commissions decide which local projects will be funded.
Do you see a pattern?
Eliminate all local projects from the state budget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Parker writes a weekly perspective/opinion column, Out on the Wire…Without a Net, on Space Coast Daily which appears every Tuesday.
He is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.
Currently, Parker is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.
Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.
Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.
You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cpbrevard_scd
AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College or Valencia College.