The Senate and House have passed their own versions of new tax legislation, and now they must reconcile their differences in a conference committee.
Wisely, the House version eliminates federal bond subsidies for pro sports stadiums; stupidly, the Senate does not eliminate those subsidies.
Under today's laws, pro sports stadiums subsidized by local governments are financed by tax-exempt municipal bonds, and interest on those bonds is exempt from federal taxation.
In a study last year, the Brookings Institution calculated that over a 15-year period beginning in the year 2000, no fewer than 36 pro sports stadiums in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League have been subsidized by these tax-exempt bonds for a whopping $3.2 billion.
As the Brookings study points out (and the Reader has been saying for decades) this is a colossal misuse of federal funds — as well as local public funds. Economists are almost unanimous saying this tax subsidy is a waste of funds.
If the Senate prevails and subsidies remain a viable source of funding for team owners, San Diego taxpayers will subsidize the Oakland Raiders' new home in Las Vegas two years from now.