Can Austin track survive loss of $25 million? UPDATE (GMM) $25 million in state funding for F1's new US grand prix in Austin is in doubt.
The Texas State Senate's finance committee has voted 10-4 to pull the package to assist the development of the under-construction Circuit of the Americas, local KXAN news reports.
"At a time when people are stressed about their schools, stressed about their jobs, stressed about health care and nursing homes, for us to check off $25 million for race cars, I think we make people say where are their priorities," senator Dan Patrick said.
"That $25 million would pay for 500 teacher salaries," he added. "How can we explain to people we're spending that money on race cars?"
But the amendment is only to the senate version of the forthcoming state budget, not the version in the House of Representatives.
The media report said it is likely "most if not all of the incentives" will ultimately be restored.04/15/11 Texas Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, pulled from the state comptroller’s fiscal programs the $25 million funding for a Formula One Grand Prix slated to debut in Austin in 2012.
By a vote of 4-10 Thursday at the Senate Committee on Finance, the funding failed to pass.
The committee staff director and a comptroller spokesman could not be reached. Local Formula One officials could not be reached.
Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said it was “philosophical vote.”
“As far as the budget is concerned, it makes no difference,” Ogden said.
Patrick then said, “I have a tough time, even with that, in these times allocating $25 million for race cars.”
The Austin American-Statesman reporter covering the hearing predicted the funding will be restored when the Senate and House create the final budget.
Hours after the vote, Patrick said he will be disappointed if the funds are restored.
“If it is a good deal and guaranteed return, find five people in Austin, ask them each for $5 million, and let them take the risk,” the former Houston area sportscaster said. “How do we tell a school teacher in Austin who may lose their job, or a government worker who may lose their job, that we don’t have money for them, but we can fund $25 million for racing?”