The 2011 Special Session of the Texas Legislature came to a close yesterday. Among the bills passed and heading for Gov. Rick Perry’s desk is SB 1, which covers a hodge podge of state fiscal matters, most notably education finance. Also in the bill passed yesterday is a provision that requires online retailers, such as Amazon.com, to collect sales taxes if they have a physical presence in the state. While lawmakers could have cut the provision from the bill, they did not as it had significant support in both chambers. Collecting sales taxes from Internet retailers is also popular with many Texans who’ve seen education and other essential state services slashed in this latest round of state budget balancing. Bricks-and-mortar retailers also largely support the provision, saying Amazon and its ilk enjoy an unfair advantage.
Perry, an as-yet-undeclared Republican candidate for president, has recently been touring the nation wowing fellow Republicans with tales of the Texas economic miracle and his job-creating prowess. When Amazon threw a hissy fit and threatened to shut down its distribution center near Dallas (see previous post) after it was presented with a bill for $269 million in uncollected sales taxes, Perry took the company’s side, vetoing a similar bill (HB 2403) during the legislature’s regular session.
The Texas Tribune reported that Amazon last week (interesting timing) offered to invest $300 million in about half a dozen warehouse and distribution centers in the state in return for a four-and-a-half year exemption from collecting sales taxes (read here). Perry is keen on the deal, but state lawmakers are not. A $300-million infusion from Amazon would certainly burnish Perry’s pro-business/job creation credentials.
What will the Gov. Perry do? Stay tuned …