updated 04:15 pm EDT, Wed May 27, 2009
N. Carolina votes Apple
The state House of North Carolina has voted 81 to 31 for a bill handing out tax breaks to Apple, the Associated Press writes. Although the results are only preliminary, they may suggest the outcome of the final vote, scheduled to be held before Wednesday's end. If successful, the bill will divert $46 million of taxpayers' money towards a 10-year break for Apple.
In exchange Apple is expected to found a massive server farm in the state, bringing with it a minimum of $1 billion in investments after a period of nine years. The company is also being asked to provide health insurance, meet a base wage standard, and eschew any other grants or tax breaks. The farm can also be located only in one of the state's poorer counties; Catawba and Cleveland are believed to be frontrunners.
Representatives fighting the the bill, such as House minority leader Paul Stam, note that it can be seen as undue corporate influence, allowing manipulation of the law with the promise of money and jobs. Many companies are willing to move to North Carolina without any special handouts, says Stam, who observes that the state ended up overbidding with tax breaks for Dell and Google.
Rep. Jonathan Rhyne is one of Stam's supporters. "What this bill says is if somebody brings us enough money we'll change the law for them," he comments.
Those in favor of the bill counter with the state's unemployment rate, which is in the double digits as a whole and as much as 16 percent in four counties. "We want the jobs," says Rep. Pryor Gibson. "As long as we have to do this, let's try to do this the best way we can."