Posted: 6:00 am Monday, April 14th, 2014

A second chance for a food bank tax break 

By Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto last year of a bill that would have reinstated sales tax exemptions for food banks was one of the most surprising decisions he’s made in the governor’s office. He revisited that debate this morning.

Deal headed to the Atlanta Food Bank on Monday to sign House Bill 958, a package of tax bills that revives the incentives for food banks along with a range of other breaks that are estimated to cost more than $200 million.

In his veto statement last year, Deal said the breaks hadn’t been vetted by his competitiveness panel. But the veto, one of only a handful of proposals he nixed, came days after he signed other tax break legislation that hadn’t been reviewed by the group.

This time around, the food bank legislation was one of only two proposals that earned the panel’s highest endorsement. The other is an extension of a sales tax break for construction materials for projects deemed to be of “regional significance” that could be used to help the Braves and Falcons save millions as they start construction on new stadiums.

Both are lumped in as part of a broader proposal, House Bill 958, that includes other cuts that didn’t get the same blessing from the competitiveness panel. Among them are a $25 million tax break for video game developers, campaign-friendly back-to-school sales tax holiday and a similar tax-free zone for energy efficient items.

Deal has already signed another piece of legislation into law that gives businesses a chance to earn tax credits for buying trucks or buses that run on alternative fuels. That measure, too, wasn’t endorsed by the panel that Deal cited in his vetoes last year. Other bills that also failed to earn the panel’s OK are also pending. When pressed on the issue a few days ago, he suggested his view had changed.

“The panel’s input is always important,” Deal said in that interview. “But sometimes they don’t have the opportunity to review everything that moves.”

Bill Bolling, Atlanta Community Food Bank’s director, was visibly relieved after the bill signing. He was one of the measure’s biggest champions and said it would help save food banks $2.5 million, enough for at least one million additional meals. But he’s still surprised the tax break was vetoed last year.

“I feel very good that we got it signed but I still see no reason that we lost it in the first place,” said Bolling. “This makes all the sense in the world. To make food banks pay taxes on food for the hungry made no sense.”

***
Democrat Michelle Nunn reports another strong fundraising quarter in her Senate bid. The Democratic frontrunner took in $2.4 million the first three months of the year, her best fundraising quarter yet. Her cash on hand totals weren’t immediately available.

26 comments
DeaconC
DeaconC

So, they stripped the tax exemption for volunteer clinics from the bill, glommed in the movie industry and a get-ready for school exemption and THEN the governor will sign it. What in the world does he have against providing healthcare to the poor? He doesn't want it done through Medicaid OR through free clinics. What does he want the poor and uninsured to do? I pray it's not the obvious choice.

DS
DS

Excellent piece, Greg, putting the spotlight on this competitiveness panel and Deal's reliance (or not) on it. Thanks for posting.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The Peach Pundit making fun of Galloway's Saturday hyperbolic blog:  "Tell us what Deal did again? Wasn't it something about campaign accounting rules for which he paid a fine?"

EdUktr
EdUktr

Any definitive word yet from the Nunn campaign that Michelle's running as a Democrat?

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

Governor Deal's so called scoring system is very simple:

"Will it get me votes in the next election?"  - SIGN IT

"Will it help people who will never vote for me?" - VETO IT



PoliticalOutsider
PoliticalOutsider

Anyone who has every spent anytime around the halls of the State Capitol knows that passing ANY tax breaking is a piece of cake. Now passing any meaningful legislation is another story.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Standard whine about the "liberal" AJC.

DannyX
DannyX

The sales tax breaks for the billionaire owners of the Braves and Falcons to help them build 2 unnecessary stadiums is ridiculous.  Whats worse is the tax breaks were at the top of the list.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Standard liberal blog today knocking Deal and pumping Nunn.  Business as usual.

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

We, in Georgia, started taxing sales in 1950 when Herman was governor. The rate was three percent. A few years later Governor Griffin was criticized for using this windfall to pave every road in South Georgia.

Fast forward to 2014-----The sales tax rate in Georgia is seven percent. And eight percent in about fifty counties.

The taxing of sales in Georgia has been corrupted with a hundred and fifty different 'Special Interest' sales tax exemptions. It's not the "tax systems"---It's what politicians do to those systems that begs for reform.

Please offer justification for the exemption of any sales tax. Your "justification" can easily be used to justify the exemption of the tax on any other sale.

honested
honested

Does this suggest their may be a limit to republican self-loathing and general disdain for everyone who 'made the choice' to be poor?

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

Silly rabbit, tax breaks are only for corporations and wealthy people.

CherokeeCounty
CherokeeCounty

Oh no.

Real news about our governor.

Darn liberal blog......

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@The_Centrist  

When you can't defend the topic at hand, change the subject and hope no one notices.

A tactic unworthy of you Centrist.

DannyX
DannyX

@LookbeforeIleap  My guess is that Deal's "competitiveness panel" is is just as rigged as his ethics panel.

DannyX
DannyX

@The_Centrist, shouldn't you be at the Capitol wearing your tea bag hat, protesting the $15 million Georgia is giving billionaire Blank to build a new parking deck for his new unnecessary  Falcons stadium?  What ever happened to "Taxed Enough Already"?

honested
honested

@Joeleejohnson  

Well, if we include ALL sales (including real estate, securities transfers, sales of entire companies, etc.) then you might have a point.

But since doing so would aid in fairness and adequately fund ALL State expenses, I doubt we will see any motion in that direction.

blah blah blah
blah blah blah

@DannyX @The_Centrist  Today is MOOOOCHER MONDAY.  No parking spaces left & cell service is maxed out.

Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

"If ifs and ands were pots and pans

There'd be no work for tinkers' hands"

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts

We'd all have a Merry Christmas"

And--If the dog hadn't stopped to crap,

he would have caught the rabbit.

Sales tax in Georgia was implemented in 1950 to apply to retail sales.

Now, because of sales tax exemptions, passed by corrupt politicians,

the taxing of sales here is a joke--On us!

honested
honested

@Joeleejohnson  

Well, with the current majority in Georgia Government, a joke is the best we get.

But you don't address the point, are you willing to include the items that are currently excluded for no apparent reason?

Trackbacks

  1. […] that Atlanta studio in the first place. Governor Nathan Deal just signed into law a bill delivering $25 million in tax breaks to game companies with studios in Georgia, including CCP, Tripwire Interactive and Hi-Rez […]

  2. […] Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Georgia governor Nathan Deal has signed off on House Bill 958, a $200 million bundle of tax […]

  3. […] will grant local video game developers $25 million in tax credits, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The legislation, part of House Bill 958, will give tax breaks to Hi-Rez Studios, Tripwire […]

  4. […] 958 continues sales tax exemptions for food banks like The Care Mission an additional two years. It also brings back the state school shopping tax […]