Senate approves tax break for Woodruff Arts Center

[private]The Senate voted 34-18 Tuesday, largely along party lines, to pass legislation (HB 265) that would provide a huge tax break for Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center.

HB 265 expands a “Quality Jobs” tax credit and would also grant a sales tax exemption of up to $750,000 for the materials used in the renovation or expansion of “a theater located within a facility in this state that contains an art museum, symphonic hall, and theater that charges for admission” and is a non-profit organization.

The only facility fitting that description would be the Woodruff Arts Center, although the name was not mentioned during Senate debate.

HB 265 was one of those rare tax breaks that drew criticism from a Republican legislator, in this case Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus).

“I believe in broad-based tax reform to provide relief to everyone,” McKoon said. “Every time we pass a bill like this . . . we make it more and more difficult for a future General Assembly to deliver on a promise of broad-based tax relief for everyone.”

“These decisions we make on tax cuts may later tie our hands on other issues (like education spending),” Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson said. “We are not doing our due diligence.”

In other votes Tuesday, the Senate passed HB 157 in an attempt to clean up a mess made last year by one of its former members who is now running for Congress, Judson Hill.

On the last day of the 2016 session, Hill added an amendment to a vaccination bill that changed the state’s requirements for how physicians can advertise their board certifications.

That amendment caused problems with physicians who practice in the state’s rural areas, said Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

“It has disrupted the whole infrastructure of medical specialties in Georgia,” Unterman said. “We want everyone to be able to practice in the state of Georgia and we want all of these subspecialities.”

HB 157 repeals the amendment that was added to the bill last year and restores the state law to what it previously was.

“What we’re trying to do is remedy the situation and take the law back to what it was last year,” Unterman said.

Hill resigned from the Senate last month when he qualified to run in the special election in the 6th Congressional District.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Josh McKoon , Judson Hill , physician advertising , Renee Unterman , Steve Henson , tax breaks , Woodruff Arts Center