The South Carolina Senate voted 31-14 to put the Amazon bill to the floor right after the budget (which was passed on Tuesday as well). This avoids an drawn out committee debate and makes it possible that they will vote on it before their adjournment on June 2nd.
The Amazon.com deal to build a distribution center in Lexington County, SC is almost back on track.
On Wednesday (5/18) the South Carolina House passed the tax exemption for Amazon (97-20) that will not only bring 1249 permanent jobs to the state, but now will include an additional 751 jobs, bringing the total jobs to 2000. They are also adding $35 million to their already promised $90 million in investments. The tax exemption deal would end January of 2016.
Now the South Carolina Senate must vote on this before their June 4th adjournment. Or they would have to take it up when they resumed on June 14th (which was originally scheduled to deal with any vetoes to current legislation from the Governor’s office).
In a bipartisan effort, both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are trying to get this vote completed to approve the deal the House already approved. Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, thinks that to go back on the deal originally proposed by former Gov. Mark Sanford, would leave a credibility gap for the state in dealing with other businesses it wishes to woo to South Carolina. Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, says it is time to “seal the deal.” And Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, believes it to be a “no brainer” and a “slam dunk” in bringing much needed job relief.
Efforts from supposed grass root groups that are actually being bankrolled by national chains such as Walmart and Best Buy, are trying to unite local businesses to explain how the Amazon deal would hurt their businesses.
However, Amazon does not currently pay any sales tax in South Carolina. Contrary to the aforementioned main Street coalition, a five year exemption would not hurt anyone. As a distribution center, the new facility would not change anyone’s buying habits.
Since no taxes are collected by people buying from Amazon currently, there will be no sudden rush to use the online retailer over local businesses any more or any less than they do now. Therefore no local businesses would be adversely affected. On the other hand, with the new jobs, people will be off the unemployment rolls, taxes will be collected, new businesses and new house will increase due to the retailer locating here and the state will be bringing in money rather than doling it out. As Sen. Lourie states, a “no brainer.”
The Governor’s office has remained silent on the deal since previously stating that Gov. Haley (R-SC) is opposed to the deal but would sign it if it was approved by the state Legislature. The lack of comment by the Governor on what could be a significant deal in both monetary and credibility is annoying many people, including previous supporters of Haley. Developer Ted McGee of West Columbia believes the Governor is getting bad advice. “I still love her as a friend, McGee stated in a recent article in The State paper. “But I think she’s got bad advice.” Which only seems to solidify the views of many that her staff is more in charge than Haley herself. When called for comment, press secretary Rob Godfrey could not be reached for comment.
For more Columbia area news and opinion coverage, click here.
For Richland County 2010 election coverage, click here.
For Ft. Jackson Headlines news and opinion coverage, click here.
For blog coverage on national issues and opinions, click here.
Become a Fan on FaceBook.