Yesterday was a hectic day for Formula 1 news in Texas. The morning started off with a statement by Comptroller Susan Combs denying the event organizers an advanced payment of taxpayer dollars for F1 racing in Texas.
“Let me state clearly: We have not paid out any money for the Formula 1 event. The only dollars that can be spent on the United States Grand Prix are tax revenues attributable to the successful running of a race. The state of Texas will not be paying any funds in advance of the event. Further, as is the case with all METF events, each application will be reviewed and analyzed for its likely economic impact and only after the race occurs would any funds be disbursed.
This was soon followed by an article by the Texas Tribune and then hours later the race developers stopped construction on the track. Below is the Texas Trib story.
Construction of the Formula 1 track in Travis County has been indefinitely suspended because of a dispute between the race organizer and the owners of the property, according to the owners (and first reported in the Austin American-Statesman). That announcement came shortly after Comptroller Susan Combs announced the state won’t funnel any money into the project until racing is underway. The owners of the track say they’ll resume construction as soon as they have a deal for a race there.
Today State Representative Wayne Christian, consistently ranked as one of the most fiscally and socially conservative members of the Texas House, put out a statement recognizing Combs listening to the taxpayers (and Empower Texans…) and not allowing our taxpayer dollars to go to F1 racing. Rep. Christian was one of 16 legislators to vote against the bill allowing state funds to flow to F1 racing in Texas.
I remember back in the 81st Legislature (2009), a bill was passed which added Formula One automobile races and the Breeder’s Cup World Championships to the events eligible for the Major Events Trust Fund, which is “supposed” to entice large events such as the Super Bowl into coming to our state. I was one of sixteen legislators in the Texas House to vote against that bill, and needless to say, I was also not in favor of paying a single nickel upfront to Formula One or any other entity, and neither were you, the Texas taxpayer. To me, that’s just bad practice and puts the cart before the horse.
However, Comptroller Susan Combs deserves recognition for listening to the will of the Texas taxpayer and protecting your investment in state government. As always, but especially in this dire economy, you taxpayers entrust your local and statewide elected officials to be good stewards of your money and Susan Combs did the right thing by divesting the state from any upfront and prolonged obligations.