The State of Texas will be sending less of your tax dollars to organizers of Austin’s Formula One race, Governor Greg Abbott’s office announced this week. The news has stakeholders of the track threatening the cancellation of the annual race to scare state officials into maintaining its current level of corporate welfare payments.
According to an Austin American Statesman report, Gov. Abbott’s office will be lowering the payment from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund to the owners of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track by approximately $5 million this year, down from $25 million in the previous three years. The decrease is the result new formula developed by the Governor’s Economic Development office after the fund’s management was transferred from the Comptroller in September of this year.
Of course, in a fashion typical of crony corporatists, European Formula One mogul Bernie Eccelstone is threatening to pull the annual race in Austin should he and his fellow co-owners of COTA not receive the full $25 million per year subsidy he was promised back in 2011. He and other stakeholders want to keep taxpayers on the hook to save them from a bad investment.
Indeed, conservatives rightly can say, “we told you so.” We raised concerns about the state’s original deal with COTA stakeholders back in 2011. Like other corporate welfare programs, it too turned out to be a bad deal for Texans.
Gov. Abbott told Texans during his gubernatorial campaign that he does not want to be “involved in government picking winners and losers.” Perhaps finding a way to cut some of the funds flowing to billionaires like Eccelstone is a sign the governor is preparing to bring the state’s current practice crony capitalism to a complete stop.