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FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007
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Senate passes tax breaks for steel mill
Incentive vote unanimous in
spite of renewed fighting

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — The state Senate put aside its feuding late Thursday night to pass a package of tax breaks that will keep Alabama in the competition with Louisiana for a German steel mill employing 2,700 people.

The Senate voted 34-0 for the legislation, which now goes to the governor for signing into law.

"It's huge," said Gov. Bob Riley, who negotiated with senators for several hours Thursday.

Riley said he had assured Thyssen-Krupp officials that the feuding in the Senate was about party politics and had nothing to do with Alabama's desire to land the $2.9 million mill.

"There was no doubt about the state's ability to articulate we want you here," Riley said.

Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., the Senate's presiding officer, also negotiated between the Senate's Democratic majority and Republican minority to get the bill passed.

"We know the importance of this day in Alabama," Folsom said.

Riley expects ThyssenKrupp to pick a plant site May 11.

The company is choosing between a site 25 miles north of Mobile and a location between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

The mill, which would be one of the largest private industrial projects in U.S. history, is expected to employ 29,000 construction workers.

In the Senate, Republicans have been slowing down action for weeks to protest new operating rules they say disenfranchise the minority.

They had offered to let the tax breaks pass, but wanted to keep stalling some routine bills to extend the life of state regulatory boards.

The Democratic majority had insisted the bills be allowed to come up for votes with the tax breaks legislation.

They compromised at about 10 p.m., agreeing to pass the tax breaks and four other bills.

Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, said Republicans were still unhappy about the way they had been treated in the Senate. "But is it worth losing an industry? No," he said.

Riley's tax legislation gives Thyssen-Krupp a 10-year tax break on paying uti-lity taxes, an enhanced 20-year break
on property taxes that don't go to education, and an income tax credit for 30 years.

The tax breaks would be added to a $400 million package of economic incentives that the Legislature approved in February.

In Louisiana, the Legislature approved $300 million in infrastructure investments in December.

On Monday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco asked lawmakers to add another $100 million "to match Alabama's commitment."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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