Praise, backlash after Florida TaxWatch issues its TurkeyWatch report

BELLE GLADE, Fla. -- One million dollars to resurface roads in and around Belle Glade may have made its way into the state budget without a proper opportunity for public review and debate, the non-profit Florida TaxWatch suggested in its annual TurkeyWatch report.

So did $6.5 million for the proposed Palm Beach State College Loxahatchee Groves campus.

And, $100,000 for a nicotine addiction drug treatment program at Scripps Research Institute.

The self-described "government watchdog" identified 107 member projects and other items historically referred to as "turkeys" in the budget state lawmakers recently sent Governor Rick Scott.

June Patton, a Belle Glade resident, said the expense wasn't justified.

"I've lived here for 60 years," she said. "There's just not many potholes around here."

Still, Charles Bender, an executive director at a Place of Hope, a Palm Beach Gardens-based child welfare organization, took exception after the report singled out $1,280,422 being given to the organization.

"Nobody would argue the role of police and fire," Bender said. "I would argue that the role of child welfare and the dependency system is right up there with those because these are the kids that have been removed from abuse, neglect and endangerment and abandonment and they don't have a choice in it. Somebody has to take care of them."

In its report , Florida TaxWatch identified more than $11 million in projects in the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast.

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