Texas senator looks to scrap funds that lure business to Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The state set aside more than $25 million to reimburse Houston for hosting the Super Bowl. The Houston Super Bowl Committee estimates the game and surrounding events will bring in $31 million in city and state tax revenue. Now, some state senators now have their eyes set on cutting the funds meant to lure business and events to Texas.

The Texas Enterprise Fund and Texas Major Events Trust Fund have both been around since 2003. The Enterprise Fund has given out more than $600 million to companies bringing jobs and business to the state. The Major Events Trust Fund has paid out more than $275 million.

As a grassroots activist, Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, railed against ‘corporate welfare.’ Now she wants to scrap the taxpayer funds used to lure business to Texas.

“All we’re doing is taking more money from the taxpayer and giving it to private industry,” Sen. Burton said.

She filed bills to abolish the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Major Events Trust Fund. Texas gave the PGA $850,000 to hold an event in Austin and more than $24 million to bring Formula One to Circuit of the Americas from the Major Events Trust Fund.

Records show Apple received $21 million to create 3,600 jobs in Austin when they expanded, and Samsung received nearly $11 million to have 900 jobs for building semiconductors from the Enterprise Fund.

“Surely we can live without them,” said Drew Scheberle from the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “These are things that have helped to bring in billions of dollars of investment with billions of dollars in salary and payroll from some of the best companies in the world.”

“You only pay these incentives if jobs that weren’t coming here come here, so this is net positive to the budget,” Scheberle said.

Sen. Burton says these jobs would come anyway with no state income tax and above average weather, and that using tax dollars is simply wasteful and leads to abuse of state funds.

“We have more and more people, lobbyists, chambers, events, coming and saying that we’d like to get in on this action, which just takes more of the people’s money,” Burton said.

This session, lawmakers work with a tighter budget, and they’ll decide if taxpayers should foot the bill for business and events. The House and the Senate have budgeted $43 million for the Texas Enterprise Fund the next two years.

During Governor Abbott’s State of the State address, he asked lawmakers to “fully fund” the fund. Looking at his proposed budget, fully funding it would be worth $108 million over the next two years.

Lawmakers have to pass the budget before they leave town in June.

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