Deal signs permanent Gulfstream tax break, MARTA bills

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Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Thursday — HB 933 – that makes permanent a tax break worth $15 million a year to Savannah-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

HB 933 provides a permanent sales tax exemption on the purchase of parts by Gulfstream for the repair and maintain of corporate aircraft. The tax break was first granted in 2007 and had been scheduled to expire in 2015.

Gulfstream Aerospace is owned by General Dynamics, which is headquartered in Virginia and reported 2013 earnings of $2.5 billion on revenues of $31.2 billion.

Deal signed a pair of bills sponsored by Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), HB 264 and HB 265, that affect the finances and operations of the MARTA transit system.

The bills suspend for three years a restriction called the 50/50 split, which mandated that 50 percent of MARTA’s sales tax revenues must be used for operational expenses while the other 50 percent was spent for capital improvements. MARTA now can spend more than 50 percent for operational purposes.

The legislation changes the method by which some members of the MARTA board are appointed. The Fulton and DeKalb County Commissions currently appoint seven members to the 11-person board, but some of that appointment authority will be shifted to the mayors of cities in DeKalb and North Fulton.

The bills revise a key component of MARTA’s collective bargaining process with its employees. In future contract negotiations, an arbitrator appointed by the governor will not be used to settle labor disputes — instead, a Fulton or DeKalb County Superior Court judge will be assigned that responsibility.

The legislation also raises from $100,000 to $200,000 the upper limit on contracts that can be awarded by MARTA without competitive bidding.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: board appointments , contract negotiations , corporate tax break , Gulfstream , MARTA , sales tax revenues