AUSTIN, Texas –- The Texas House last Thursday gave preliminary approval to a bill (SB 1111) that would permit a public vote on whether Dallas County car rental tax limits should be raised from 5% to 6% to help fund a new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys. A final vote in the House is expected this week.
If given final House approval, the bill will then return to the Senate for consideration of two minor amendments. The Senate approved its version of the bill last month.
"I can live with both of the amendments. It shouldn't be any problem at all," Senator Royce West, who sponsored the bill, told the Dallas Morning News.
In addition to the rental tax hike, the bill also authorizes a public vote on raising the county hotel occupancy tax from 2% to 3%.
The Dallas Cowboys' plans call for a 100,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof and an open end-zone design. The $650 million stadium would be part of a $1 billion complex including a convention hotel, retail stores and restaurants.
Under the tax proposal, the Dallas County Sports Authority would use the additional tax revenue to pay off an estimated $435 million in construction bonds.
Stadium backers hope to place the tax measure on Dallas County's November ballot. Car rental operators have begun organizing a campaign to oppose such a measure. In light of recent state budget cutbacks, the anti-tax campaign will challenge the wisdom of publicly subsidizing a private-enterprise project backed by a millionaire.
"There are so many programs being killed in the Legislature right now," said Dave Capps, owner of Capps Van & Car Rental in Dallas. "If we're going to raise money, let's raise it for something like health insurance for kids that are about to lose that. Do we really want to give our tax money to [Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones?"
Information about the anti-tax campaign will be posted regularly on the campaign Web site (www.nojonestax.com site).