Taxpayers in Midland and Odessa — along with the rest of us — are shelling out big bucks for a new “performing arts” center to be built between the two cities. The facility, which is described as standing “90 feet tall at its center, far surpassing the height of the nearby Highway 191 overpass on Farm-to-Market Road 1788,” is expected to cost $89 million. Combined population in Midland and Odessa: 185,939, or $478.65 for every man, woman and child.

But it gets better, this taxpayer funded boondogle-in-the-making will seat just 1,800 — or $4,944 per seat.

It’s bad enough when communities do this kind of construction to themselves. But in this case, taxpayers around the state are subsidizing the banjo hall. Legislators used the credit card to get $45 million in bond money, and the University of Texas (motto: we’ll waste it if you’ve got it) is generously kicking another $9 million of your dollars. And you thought they’d use the money to actually teach kids.

By the way, some $7.5 million in highway funds were diverted to the project for “road improvement” around the planned center.

Taxpayers in Midland and Odessa are kicking in another $9 million, with the rest being raised — allegedly — through private donations.

House Speaker Tom Craddick (the Republican who represents in Midland) is quoted in the local newspaper as saying that the center would “stand out in West Texas.”

Yep, a monument to waste. If the greater Permian Basin market could actually use and sustain a “performing arts center,” it’d be built without the compulsory taxpayer subsidization.

Yes, yes, I know. Other stupid cities do it, which every 14-year-old boy knows is a perfectly valid justification for anything. And if Dallas were to jump off a bridge would that make it right? Apparently so…

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.


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