SC Lawmakers Reject Deal, Amazon Pulls Out
Amazon has cancelled its plans to open a distribution center near Columbia, South Carolina, because state lawmakers voted down a plan to give the online retailer a sales tax break. Governor Nikki Haley is unapologetic about her refusal to get behind the tax break for Amazon. A top Amazon official says 1,200 jobs and nearly $100 million in capital investment are no longer coming to South Carolina. The company has said it will only build a distribution center in the state if given an exemption to charging sales taxes. With a vote of 71 to 47, members of the South Carolina House of Representatives said "No" to Amazon's request. Governor Nikki Haley has also refused to support the tax break. "We don't want to be known as a state that's desperate to grab anybody and anything at the sake of the rest of our businesses," said Haley during a speech in Charleston on Thursday. "That's what that was about." Haley has repeatedly called the tax break "bad policy" because it would favor Amazon over existing retailers in the state. Haley's predecessor, Mark Sanford, promised the tax break to Amazon just before leaving office. The issue has divided both major parties at South Carolina's state capitol. Republican House Majority leader Kenny Bingham called the vote "devastating." He - like Governor Haley - is from Lexington County where Amazon planned to build its distribution center. Local officials there say the state can't afford to turn away so many jobs. But Haley says that her priority is to protect businesses already in the state and encourage investment from industries such as manufacturing. "Retail in general is very different than manufacturing," said Haley. "Retail by nature has a high turnover. Retail by nature is a lower price job and retail in general is not solid and invested. It is not a Boeing. It is not a BMW. Manufacturing high technology is very different" State lawmakers could still work out a deal that would satisfy Amazon's demands, but the lopsided nature of the House vote makes resolution seem unlikely. Hours after the bill's defeat, Amazon cancelled $52 million worth of contracts in the state.