In the latest move to change how the state uses financial incentives to boost the economy, Gov. Greg Abbott and Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Thursday their support for overhauling taxpayer-funded programs used to lure sporting events and conferences to Texas.
The two Republican state leaders called for the Legislature to approve moving the state’s four events trust fund programs from the comptroller's office to the governor’s office, which also oversees the state's other economic incentive programs like the Texas Enterprise Fund.
Hegar's predecessor, Republican Susan Combs, was criticized for her office's role in approving subsidies for high-profile events that critics have argued were in little danger of relocating to another state. There have also been questions raised over whether a group of investors that built a Formula One racing track in Austin ever formally applied for incentives they have received for that project.
"I believe this agency must renew its focus on the core functions of the comptroller, and reform programs that fall outside that focus," Hegar said in a statement. "Gov. Abbott and I both believe these programs, including the Major Events Trust Fund and Events Trust Fund, would operate more efficiently, more effectively and with greater accountability to taxpayers within the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Division.”
Abbott and Hegar said they expect the Legislature to reform the event fund programs to address concerns about transparency and allegations of cronyism.
"Comptroller Hegar and I have identified weaknesses in Texas’ economic development programs and provided a roadmap for reform that will optimize our state’s economic development strategy,” Abbott said in a statement.