Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that gives Charlotte permission to spend hotel occupancy taxes and prepared food and beverage taxes to help upgrade Bank of America Stadium passed the House Finance Committee Tuesday morning, but not before members from the political right and left pilloried the measure.
City officials say they need to invest in the stadium in order to help keep the Charlotte Panthers NFL franchise in North Carolina.
"This is corporate welfare," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham. "This is welfare for a major, profitable corporation."
Luebke was joined by conservatives like Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, the House majority leader, and Bert Jones, R-Rockingham.
"It almost seems disingenuous," Starnes said. "You're shortchanging one fund to buck up another."
Backers of the bill answered back, saying lawmakers weren't spending any state money on the project.
"All we're doing is allowing them to allocate the money as they see fit," said Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg.
Rep. Andy Wells, R-Catawba, said the state had its own problems to deal with.
"I thought we were dealing with a local issue," Wells said. "I'm bowing up a little bit against the idea that cities are incompetent. ... I've got a little more to worry about in my district than what's going on in Charlotte."
The measure was subjected to a roll call vote. The final tally was 21-11.
The committee did not take up a proposal dealing with the city of Asheville's water system, because it ran out of time.