Small-business group backing Haley wants changes

ashain@thestate.comJuly 1, 2014 

SC Governor Nikki Haley

A small-business group that endorsed Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election bid on Tuesday already has a game plan for her to follow next year if she wins re-election.

The National Federation of Independent Business wants the state to allow full tax depreciation of equipment bought by businesses and swap city business licenses for ones countywide.

The NFIB backed Haley for supporting business-tax cuts, damage caps on lawsuit awards and better customer-service at state agencies, said Ben Homeyer, the organization’s state director in South Carolina. In accepting the endorsement, Haley said she brought the same ethic she learned as a teenager handling her family clothing business’ accounting books to spend smartly and avoid obstacles that cost money.

S.C. Democrats, who have state Sen. Vincent Sheheen opposing Haley in November, criticized the NFIB for Republican and corporate ties.

The NFIB, which counts 4,000 members in South Carolina, wants the state to stop taxing equipment years after businesses purchase items, Homeyer said. That state does not allow full depreciation of equipment. “You could pay taxes for a chair 30 years after you bought it,” Homeyer said.

The group also wants to give businesses more consistency in obtaining licenses. Different cities require businesses licenses, a burden for owners working in several towns. The NFIB wants business licenses issued countywide. A bill introduced last year that would have ended the practice did not go anywhere in the Legislature last year.

Haley has tried to balance attention received by big-employment producers, such as recent announcements involving tire makers, with small businesses that provide nearly half the jobs in the state. She did not receive the NFIB’s endorsement in her 2010 race against Sheheen until late September.

The governor said she wants to end business taxes – a move backed by the NFIB. Lawmakers agreed to cut state small-business taxes to 3 percent from 5 percent two years ago during a time when Haley was working to trim taxes on larger companies.

Haley tried to bring the two together Tuesday when she talked about how she asks large manufacturers to hire in-state contractors and suppliers.

“We can’t forget the small shop around the corner,” she said during the announcement at Shealy Truck Center on Bluff Road in Columbia.

S.C. Democrats say Haley “has consistently stacked the deck against our state’s local business owners” by giving tax incentives to lure major employers.

But Bruce Shealy, president of the truck repair shops in Columbia and Duncan that employ about 75 workers, said Haley has the right idea in mixing private-public relationships.

“This is what happens when a governor listens to small business,” he said.

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