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Republicans endorse anti-Domain subsidy amendment

Thursday, October 16, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The Travis County Republican Party — joining a most unlikely coalition — has voted to endorse Proposition 2 on the Nov. 4 ballot. Prop. 2 is a City Charter Amendment that would severely limit the City Council’s ability to enter into tax abatement agreements with retail stores and undo an agreement signed years ago.

 

The proposition, sponsored by the Stop Domain Subsidies group, is aimed at preventing economic developments agreements like the one between the city and Simon Properties, developers of the upscale Domain in northwest Austin, and to prevent the city from honoring its agreement to rebate sales taxes to Simon.

 

The Republicans voted Tuesday night to join with almost all other political, labor, environmental and neighborhood groups in the city in endorsing the proposition. Carl Tepper with TCRP said the endorsement fits with Republicans’ attitudes about economic policy.

 

“Republicans have always been laissez faire economists anyway,” Tepper said. “It was very natural for the Republican leadership to want to support any initiative or legislation that would disallow these sort of incentives for economic development.”

By endorsing Prop. 2, the GOP joins a coalition of disparate groups, such as the Austin Central Labor Council-AFL-CIO, Austin Neighborhoods Council, Central Austin Democrats, East Austin Republicans, Save Our Springs Alliance, Texans for Public Justice, The Republican Club of Austin, Travis County Democratic Party, Travis County Green Party, Travis County Libertarian Party, and the Travis County Republican Liberty Caucus.

Tepper said that does not concern his group.

 

“I think it just goes to show how noxious the debate has become on these social subsidies,” he said. “I think it showed that the public is getting very annoyed with these type of plans and giveaways and they are not going to take it anymore. We’re very happy that the Democrats and the AFL-CIO are coming around to seeing that laissez faire economics is the way to go.”

 

In addition to political organizations, more than 100 local businesses have signed on back Prop. 2.

 

“This (the Republican endorsement) completes the circle of political organizations in the community,” said Brian Rodgers, organizer of Stop Domain Studies. “This allows us to present an unbroken circle of support from all spectrums of the community.”

 

The only groups that have come out in opposition to Prop. 2 are the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Council Of Austin. They have funded Keep Austin’s Word, a political action committee aimed at defeating Prop. 2 on the ballot. The chamber and RECA, along with Simon Properties, have been the only donors to the PAC thus far.

 

However, six of seven City Council Members have come out against the amendment amidst dire warnings that the city would face costly litigation if voters approved it.

 

A representative of Keep Austin’s Word could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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