Senate approves Gulfstream tax break

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The state Senate voted 39-12 Wednesday to pass HB 164, which extends for two years a sales tax exemption on equipment purchased for the repair and maintenance of aircraft.

The bill, which the House has already approved, would provide a tax break estimated at $16 million over the next two years that primarily benefits Gulfstream Aerospace of Savannah, which has received the tax exemption since 2007.

The Senate also voted 46-4 to pass HB 371, which defines liquefied natural gas for motor fuel tax purposes and makes it subject to the excise tax of 7.5 cents per gallon.

Senate Democrats questioned the wisdom of continuing to give tax breaks to corporations, which reduces state revenues at a time when Georgia has already cut back on funding for public schools.

Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) noted that many school systems cannot afford to hold classes for the required 180 days a year because of budget shortfalls and asked, “do we really have the luxury of giving this $16 million tax break when we have these dire needs in our state budget?”

Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta) said the tax break would help keep jobs in Georgia – “I would argue we’re making money on this with so many high-paying jobs.”

“For years and years we have gone about offering companies special tax breaks based on the influence of their lobbyists and not by analyzing the true impact of what’s happening,” Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-Tucker) said. “Anyone who wants a tax break will say, it creates jobs.”

“Japan is sending their kids to school 244 days and in more than a third of the school systems in Georgia, we’re not even sending them to school 180 days,” Henson said. “Education and other things are suffering (because of the tax breaks granted by the General Assembly).”

© 2013 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Gulfstream Aerospace , Nan Orrock , Steve Henson , tax exemption , Tim Golden