9 Investigates: How Florida is spending your money



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9's Christopher Heath took a look at Florida tax money and just how the state is spending it.

Last year the state approved a pedestrian bridge at the intersection of Pine Hills and Silver Star roads in west Orange County. It was an effort to try to save lives at the busy intersection. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it.
This year the bridge, along with a record number of other projects, are back in front of the governor. It's all part of a record $77.1 billion budget.
"They were able to give $500 million in tax relief and also increase spending," said WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong.
Most of that tax relief will come in the form of a fee reduction for vehicle tags, roughly $25 per person.
"It's a modest number for those of us who are buying tags, but it adds up to $400 million," said Foglesong.
But other vehicle fees, including new vehicle registration, which were raised in 2009, did not change. Nor did the filing fee for foreclosures, which in some cases is almost $2,000. That is a fee that increased in 2009 but is unchanged.
"We're talking about a significant amount of money, government reaching into people's pockets and taking out that money," said Robert Weissert with Florida TaxWatch.
In its annual report, government watchdog Florida TaxWatch identified $120 million in what they call "budget turkeys.". Those are Items added in with limited oversight.
A prospect that is made even more alluring when there is extra money to spend.
"It's been a while since we've had a surplus, and there's been some really pent up desire to add some member projects," said Kurt Wenner with Florida TaxWatch.
The governor hasn't signed the budget yet, and he still has time to use his veto pen to eliminate projects.
Last year he trimmed more than $360 million from the budget, eliminating two local projects, one for a bike trail and the other the pedestrian bridge on Silver Star and Pine Hills roads.