State Senate Considers Using State Funds to Lure Events to “Jerry World”
A bill coming up for debate in the Texas Senate would expand a state fund now used to lure sporting events to Texas, so it could be used to lure events of all kinds to Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
Current law allows communities to tap the fund for big sporting events like the World Series and Super Bowl, the Olympics and Formula One auto racing.
Although critics question this use of state money, the Senate Economic Development Committee has passed a bill that expands use of the fund. It now goes to the full Senate for action.
The trust fund works a little bit like a “pay-day loan.” The state projects how much tax revenue an event will generate, gives it to local jurisdictions in advance to cover some of the event’s costs, and gets the money back when the extra taxes are remitted to the state. The state advanced $31.2 million to the Arlington area based on increased sales, car rental and alcoholic beverage taxes surrounding this year’s Super Bowl.
Richard Viktorin of the group Audits in the Public Interest testified against the bill. He says the program is already ripe for fraud and abuse because the state never audits events to see if the remitted revenue matches their projections.
Arlington officials and civic leaders support this bill. They say they’re already talking with the Academy of Country Music Awards Show about moving it to Cowboys Stadium next year. They say if the bill passes they’ll go after the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2016.