The state of Texas has been shifting family planning funds, contemplating layoffs and finding any way possible to scrimp together enough extra money to fill in the massive budget gap they are facing.
So, of course it’s the perfect time to spend $25 million on race car driving.
Via Think Progress:
At a time when Texas is dealing with a record budget deficit by slashing essential services and possibly laying off 97,000 teachers, state lawmakers have committed taxpayers to funding Formula One auto racing at a steep price: $25 million a year for the next 10 years.
The motorsport franchise left the U.S. four years ago because of low attendance, but the effort to bring it back — and base it in Texas — has been spearheaded by B.J. “Red” McCombs, the co-founder of conservative media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications. Despite being consistently ranked as one of Forbes 400 richest Americans — with a net worth last estimated at $1.4 billion — McCombs has gotten state Comptroller Susan Combs to agree to build a racing track in Austin at taxpayer expense. Austin’s city government may also invest an additional $4 million a year in tax revenue to facilitate the plan.
“I don’t understand why 25 people in Austin could not put up $1 million each if they thought this was a good opportunity instead of the state making a $25 million commitment,” said Senator Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican. “The developers should find the money through private sources.”
Of course, those of us from Minnesota remember Red McCombs well — he left the state after selling the Minnesota Vikings, in part because the state wasn’t going to build him a better stadium for his team to play in.
But why is it that racing always seems to be the one thing that Republicans are willing to break the budget to subsidize? After all, when Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum suggested cutting the federal dollars that were being used to fund a NASCAR sponsorship, she actually received death threats for the proposal (the bill eventually failed, too.)
So, just a reminder yet again — Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, WIC, birth control, cancer screenings, those are all expendable. But if a rich guy wants a racetrack, there’s always some money lying around.