Choosing corporate welfare over schools

I am not sure what an “onshore delivery center” is, but it sounds like something that would be landlocked. And, since this particular facility is being developed by CGI Group, Inc., in Belton, in Central Texas, I guess it is appropriately named.

A bigger question, though, is whether the state of Texas should be handing over $1.8 million in taxpayer money to CGI, a gift of corporate welfare to encourage the technology company to honor Belton with its presence.

Gov. Rick Perry thinks so. He approved the expenditure from the Texas Enterprise Fund in return for CGI’s promise to create 350 news jobs and make a $7 million capital investment in the local community. Unfortunately, we don’t know yet – and neither does Perry – whether CGI will keep its promises. Many Enterprise Fund recipients haven’t.

We do know, however, that there is another enterprise in Belton, already up and running, and of even more vital importance to the local community, which could really have used that $1.8 million. That would be the Belton Independent School District, which, because of the governor and the legislative majority, saw its state funding slashed by $3.5 million this year.

This, unfortunately, is just another example of Perry’s backward approach to governing. He prefers to shell out millions of taxpayer dollars to private companies on promises of a limited number of new jobs, while starving the public schools, the key to creating a substantial number of highquality, highpaying jobs for Texas’ future.

He is compromising that future so he can make some dubious claims about job creation now. Some recipients of the enterprise funds deliver on their promises. Others don’t. And, what’s even more troubling, many have political ties to the governor. I don’t know about CGI.

One day, CGI may return part of that money to Belton ISD in the form of higher property taxes. And, it may not. One thing is certain though. Belton ISD needs that $1.8 million, or even part of it, right now.


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