The Lone Star State plans to fund a race track instead of schools. Really.
Talk to any pretty much any state legislator these days and they'll tell you that they're broke because of the economic downturn, and that's why they have to slash billions from education. While it is true that states coast to coast are hurting, and there are plenty of examples of misplaced funding priorities to be found, I haven't heard one as egregious as Texas' plans to slash education budgets and layoff almost 100,000 teachers, all while agreeing to pay $25 million per year through 2022 to Formula One auto racing.
Investors are "building a 3.4-mile (5.5-kilometer) track to bring the event to Austin" and the $25 million government handout from the state will subsidize the costs Formula One will incur. The office of one of the project's main investors, Clear Channel Communications Inc. co-founder B.J. “Red” McCombs, told Bloomberg News that "Formula One race in Austin next year will spur $300 million of spending" and building the "$242 million track, which has begun, is projected to add 1,300 temporary jobs and pump $400 million into the economy."
What's left out of that rosy scenario is that Formula One racing is known as a sport for the uber wealthy—think the Monaco Grand Prix—and attempts to get it going in other American cities, like Indianapolis and Las Vegas, have been complete failures.
German teacher Ewa Siwak, who teaches at Bowie High School in Austin and is being laid off said she has "to wonder why the state of Texas is all over funding for this racetrack and not the school-funding crisis."
Sure, that $25 million a year won't pay the salaries of all the teachers Texas plans to pink slip, but it could "pay more than 500 teachers an average salary of $48,000." It definitely sounds like there are some screwed up priorities if the state is funding a race track backed by wealthy corporations and individuals instead of education.