Last week’s announcement that the Professional Golf Association would be relocating its headquarters from Florida and to Texas should give taxpayers serious cause for concern, as details on the incentive package come to light.
Shortly after the deal was struck, Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated the move saying, “The decision to relocate their headquarters to Texas because of our business-friendly climate is a welcome one.”
He added, “I thank the PGA of America for the new jobs and investment that they will bring to the City of Frisco, wish them continued success, and welcome them to the Lone Star State.”
The “new jobs and investment” mentioned by Abbott refers to the minimum 100 new jobs and $30 million of capital investment that the PGA will bring when they make the move.
The price to lure the organization here, however, was steep: a head-turning $160 million in various local and state incentives.
Local incentives include $13.3 million for the city of Frisco, $13.3 million from the Frisco Community Development Corporation, $5.8 million for Frisco ISD. Meanwhile, the state is enhancing Frisco’s package by offering around $64 million in in incentives, from both the Texas Enterprise Fund as well as hotel, state, and beverage taxes.
While the final number of new jobs and the size of investment by the PGA remains to be seen, it is notable that the incentives offered are nearly double the amount given to Toyota when they announced their plan to relocate their headquarters from California in 2014.
Conservatives have long opposed corporate welfare in the form of tax abatements and incentive handouts, as it causes the government to intervene by picking winners and losers in business — all with money from Texas businesses and taxpayers.
Taxpayers received a victory in this arena in 2015 with the repeal of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, but since then have had little reason to believe these funds will completely disappear anytime soon.
New jobs and an investment in the state are positive but should be the result of, as Abbott put it, a “business-friendly climate” rather than corporate handouts and cronyism.
Conservatives who wish to see a level playing field for business in the Lone Star State should demand lawmakers take steps to scale back or eliminate these programs completely during the next legislative session.