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Texas Attorney General's office says it can't resolve F1 state funds dispute
In an opinion issued today, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said his office cannot resolve a dispute between two officials over state funds going toward Formula One races planned near Austin because it involves a disagreement over facts, not interpretation of Texas law.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson filed a request in November for an opinion as to whether state Comptroller Susan Combs overstepped her authority in 2010 when in written communications, she appeared to commit $25 million toward the races, planned for November.

Combs and Patterson, both Republicans, have indicated that they plan to run for lieutenant governor in 2014.

Patterson sought Abbott’s opinion on whether Combs bypassed at least two provisions in state law that determine how private companies are selected to participate in the state’s Major Events Trust Fund, an economic development fund administered by her office.

Patterson said Combs did not receive a request from a local government or nonprofit before committing $25 million for 10 years to be used toward the race and that she had not determined the additional tax revenue the event would create.

Combs’ office replied that when she told Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone that the state would pay $25 million a year from the trust fund, it was only a general statement of support and not a legally binding promise. In November, Combs said her office would not pay any state money in advance of the race.

“The facts upon which this office has been asked to opine are disputed, and contested issues of fact are not amenable to the opinion process,” today’s opinion said.

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