As the GOP convened in Dallas last week, delegates from across the state voted on over 200 individual planks for the Republican Party of Texas platform. With an 88 percent approval, the party passed a plank that confirmed what conservative legislators have been trying to do for years – abolish the Major Event Trust Fund (METF) and the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF).
The State of Texas hosts an array of taxpayer-funded incentive programs such as the METF, TEF, and the Film and Music Marketing Program. The aim is to lure companies, events, and the entertainment industry to Texas by offering monetary incentives – often times in the millions. Although the intention is to artificially stimulate economic development, job creation, and, in turn, tax revenue, the programs have received heavy criticism due to the state’s inability to effectively measure their economic impact, a lack of accountability, and the picking of “winners and losers” by government officials.
Conservative legislators have made attempts to defund these programs for years. During the most recent legislative session, State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) filed two amendments to HB1 – one to defund the TEF and one to defund the Film and Music Marketing Program. However, both amendments failed due to House Democrats and liberal Republicans.
Meanwhile, awareness and criticism of the METF were raised in 2011 and 2012 when the state forked over $26 million in taxpayer dollars in order to host the Super Bowl XLV in Arlington and $29 million to host the Formula 1 Race in Austin.
This idea of government using large sums of tax revenue in an effort to “create wealth” contradicts free market values and the principles of open competition. Free markets and Texas’ low tax rates serve as a pre-existing draw for businesses and a natural catalyst for economic growth – not the government. With the Republican Party of Texas voting to support the abolishment of such incentive programs, it seems conservative legislators such as Rinaldi were ahead of the game.