This section appeared in Texas Monthly under the headline, “Put a Leash on the Governor’s Pet Projects.” I recommend zeroing out nonessential funds that appear in the Appropriations bill under “Trusteed Programs in the Office of the Governor.” These are the Texas Enterprise Fund ($67,576,0000); the Emerging Technology Fund $203,038,327; the Economic Development and Tourism Fund; and the Film and Music Marketing Fund. Most states have a deal-closing fund similar to the Enterprise Fund. But the Enterprise Fund has been controversial from the beginning (2003). Some critics have called it a slush fund and press accounts have questioned whether a land deal that benefited Perry was linked to the recipient of an Enterprise Fund grant. Recently, Texas Watch has revealed that some grant recipients have been unable to meet the job quotas that they promised to fulfil. The Emerging Technology Fund has likewise become ensnared in controversy over whether the Governor’s Office followed the proper procedure in awarding the grant. The Economic Development and Tourism Fund ($86,422,107) and the Film and Music Marketing Fund ($64,244,514) have escaped controversy. However, I did come across several articles that questioned the wisdom of giving expensive incentives to filmmakers. An article One such article, published in the New York Times two years ago, said: “There’s no way you can say this makes money for the public” treasury, said Greg Albrecht, chief economist for Louisiana’s legislative fiscal office. In 2006, the last year for which it has complete figures, the state granted about $121 million in credits. Mr. Albrecht estimates that only about 18 percent of that is ever recovered in taxes on expanded economic activity.”
A fifth fund, the Major Events Trust Fund, is actually under the supervision of the Comptroller. Comptroller Susan Combs and Governor Perry tapped the fund for $25 million to bring a Formula I race to Austin. This seems completely irresponsible to me. We’re facing a terrible budget crunch. Why pay public money to a private entrepreneur? With the $25 million from the Major Events Trust Fund, the total saved by zeroing out all funds is $471,038,054.
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