There may be hope for this Legislature yet.
House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham says he will revive the Amazon deal next week, which means that some of the Statehouse savants have changed their minds.
Who says politicians never learn from their mistakes?
Last month, the state House reneged on a deal made by the Sanford administration to bring an Amazon distribution center to the state. The deal meant 1,250 full-time jobs, as well as hundreds of seasonal positions, for Lexington County. That's good -- in case you haven't noticed, South Carolina is a few jobs shy a shift these days.
But everything fell apart when the House would not go along with a sales-tax exemption on Amazon sales for five years. It was pretty clear these House members were duped by a faux grassroots campaign -- and threatened by Gov. Nikki Haley -- to kill the deal. Lawmakers have been hearing about it ever since. But, amazingly, it seems some of these folks are listening to common sense instead of the fringe.
Down on Main Street
State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis of West Ashley said Thursday that he'd heard rumblings of this.
Legislative leaders have been twisting arms and doing some 'splaining to their wayward flock. Often that can be about as productive as talking to a box of rocks, but apparently some are listening. Of course, it's easier to make an informed decision when you actually have the facts.
"I think a lot of the issue was misconstrued," Stavrinakis says.
All these lawmakers heard was "tax break" and "unfair to existing business." That's a valid concern. But guess what, Brainiacs, the sales tax is paid by the consumers -- not Amazon. The company is already competing with local business, but if Amazon doesn't set up shop in South Carolina, the state will never be able to collect sales taxes from them.
This whole thing got stirred up by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, an advocacy group that sounds really cool. That is, until you realize the alliance is, in part, an Amazon attack group supported by big businesses such as Wal-Mart.
You know, the company that actually killed Main Street business.
Turn the page
South Carolinians from Moncks Corner to Mauldin have been complaining about the House decision for weeks. They could see that this deal did not change the incline on the playing field. The only difference is that one way the state gets jobs, the other way it doesn't.
Privately, legislative leaders say that Haley's remarks killed any chance there was of approving the deal in April. Haley had said "You will not see an Amazon agreement in a Haley administration. I was not involved in the agreement. I did not know about the agreement." Which is funny, since they talked about it at the Statehouse last year. Must have been one of those days she was absent.
Now, this doesn't mean Amazon is a done deal. Lawmakers could still foul it up. But they need to think hard. South Carolina's already damaged reputation is at stake, and they have a chance to start the rehabilitation.
Nobody wants to make the same mistake twice.