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Arizona lawmakers debate tax bills as session draws to a close

Arizona House Majority Leader John Allen, standing left, in seen in the floor of the Arizona house in Phoenix, Ariz., Thursday, May 4, 2017. Allen said Thursday he has secured enough Republican votes in his chamber to pass a $9.8 billion state budget package and he believes a massive university loan plan also has enough GOP votes to pass. The Arizona Legislature was moving closer to passing a state budget plan late Thursday afternoon, with deal-cutting securing support from defiant Republicans in an effort to gain passage without minority Democratic support. (AP Photo/ Bob Christie)

PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers are closing in on the end of the legislative session with a focus on tax credit proposals for big and small businesses and a variety of other left-over priorities.

There are at least four measures being pushed by Republicans who champion the tax incentives as a way to spur new business growth. It’s unclear which of the bills will make it to the finish line.

The House on Monday delayed debate on one measure that would extend to 2025 a job-creation tax credit for big companies that was set to expire this year.

Senate Bill 1416 also includes new lower property taxes for Intel and other manufacturers in special trade zones that already pay an ultra-low tax rate on new equipment.

The measure also would extend a research and development credit that was due to be reduced next year.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Jeff Weninger of Chandler, is working on a series of amendments to try to garner more support for the measure.

The Senate voted 21-7 Monday in favor of proposal that calls for boosting by $10 million an existing program in which so-called “angel investors” can benefit from tax credits for backing small businesses. The measure now goes back to the House for consideration.

Sponsor Sen. Karen Fann said the program has already boosted economic activity.

“I do believe that this has generated not only additional dollars but it also enhanced any money that would have been invested to begin with,” Fann said.

A third proposal in House Bill 1292 would increase eligibility for a job-creation fund to very small businesses.

The most contentious bill, Senate Bill 1212, creates a tax credit for investment in rural communities.

The proposal would allow out-of-state companies who generate $50 million in investment capital to get $30 million in tax credits, which they would sell, mainly to insurance companies, to generate cash to repay investors. The proposal from Rep. T.J. Shope has been stalled but could be revived in the final days of the session.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club opposes Shope’s bill, saying the state should avoid adopting a complex scheme that lets the funding company profit for questionable results.

Legislative leaders said adjournment could come as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

The final days of the session are often marked by fits and starts as lawmakers and Republican leaders try to revive legislation that earlier fell by the wayside, so predicting an ending date is virtually impossible.

In early action Monday, the Senate joined the House is approving legislation increasing the mileage rate lawmakers receive for driving to the Capitol. The vote sends the measure to Gov. Doug Ducey for his consideration.

Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers signed on in support of the proposal.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said lawmakers who travel long distances need an increase from the state rate of 441/2 cents per mile to the federal rate of 531/2 cents a mile. He cited low lawmaker pay of $24,000 a year and the costs for rural members who often must drive hours to Phoenix.

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