Take a guess at who recently gave this quote regarding the Texas Emerging Technology Fund: “Why are we in this business? Why are we putting public tax dollars at risk with startups that can’t or won’t raise private money?”
No, it wasn’t a conservative. As hard as it is to believe, it was liberal Democrat Mark Strama (the same representative of northwest Austin that contains a high level of technology interest that would benefit from such a fund) who gave the quote in the Austin American-Statesman.
Compare that to Arlington Rep. Diane Patrick’s and Sen. Chris Harris’ desire to use taxpayer money to expand Special Event Funding to target events like the Academy of Country Music Awards, Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and the National Cutting Horse Association Triple Crown. The program has already been used to subsidize $31 million of the cost of this year’s Super Bowl.
This begs the question: Is Rep. Mark Strama really more free-market than the GOP legislators from Arlington? Clearly not. But on this issue, Rep. Strama has a very valid point. Why are the taxpayers in the business of subsidizing private business, or private events?
“Because other states do it,” is the most often-heard answer. To which we must respond as our parents did: “And if the other states were jumping off a cliff would you?” Which, by the way, those states are doing – to the benefit of the historically subsidy-averse, and not coincidentally relatively low-tax, Texas.
Whether it’s the Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Enterprise Fund, tax breaks for Hollywood or Special Events Funding, government should not be in the position to dictate what business/industry/event is favored and what isn’t. And with this budget crisis, the LAST thing we should be doing is expanding taxpayer subsidies.
Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator for Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Connect with Dustin on Twitter.