I can’t recall an occasion in which a statewide official endorsed legislators. Usually it’s the other way around. Susan Combs has endorsed Wayne Christian, David Simpson, and Bryan Hughes (who doesn’t really fit in with the extremist crowd). Who’s next? Leo Berman? You have to hand it to Combs. She is pandering, and everybody knows she’s pandering, and she knows everybody knows, and still she does it. If she’s looking for reciprocity, I don’t think endorsements by legislators carry much weight. Three out of a hundred and fifty won’t get you very far, especially when two of them are Christian and Simpson.
There is a larger question here of Combs’ record in office–the data breach, the money lavished on Formula One, the sums spent for special events such as horse shows and football games out of the major events trust fund, which, thanks to Combs’ generosity, operates very much like a slush fund: with no apparent oversight, she picks winners and losers. She spent $78 million in 2011. This is state money, entrusted to the comptroller, and its use should be subject to oversight from legislators. Here is my suggestion for how it should be distributed: Rick Perry should use it to fund the women’s health program. At least the state could get something out of it.
The irony is that Combs is probably currying favor with the likes of Christian and Simpson to no avail. No serious economist believes in subsidies, and no true fiscal conservative should spread state tax dollars around, especially during a budget crisis. This isn’t fiscal conservatism. It’s crony capitalism. The Travis County Republican Party said as much when it passed a resolution opposing the use of tax revenue to support the Formula One race. In a press release, TCRP Chairman Rosemary Edwards said:
“We believe in encouraging new businesses and development, but that development should not come at so much expense to the already overburdened taxpayers for a venture which seems so unlikely to return revenue benefits which justify the cost. This is an example of irresponsible government buying fancy gifts for their jet-set friends.”
Ms. Edwards is right; that is exactly what it is. State officials should not be picking winners and losers.
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