Georgia lawmakers convened Tuesday to discuss relief for victims of Hurricane Michael, which blistered the southern and middle regions of the state last month, but weaved into the relief package are a number of programs for private entities.
Among the incentives and relief efforts,, is $9.3 million for a private school – Mercer’s School of Medicine – to create a new medical school in Columbus, Georgia and a permanent jet fuel sales tax exemption for airlines.
- $200 million in income tax credits for landowners in soutwest Georgia (28 counties)
- This is supposed to be an incentive to replant pecan trees and timber
- $270 million in spending for clean-up efforts
- The state plans to pay the local government portion for counties and cities
- Reports given to lawmakers indicate the state already made this decision to help local governments, ahead of lawmakers convening for the special session
- $25 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide financial assistance to local communities
- $15 million for Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) grants to local communities
- $30 million in emergency disaster relief for farmers
- This could draw down $120 million in federal funds for the same purpose
- $7.426 million to replace firefighter equipment
- $20 million for timberland clean-up (this will be funded t the Georgia Development Authorty for dispersement)
- $35 million for a tech school in Paulding County, which focuses on aviation
- A PERMANENT jet fuel credit for airlines which would save $40 million for Delta Airlines alone
- $770,000 for consolidated Miller-Early County Forestry Commission Offices
Pecans, cotton, poultry, and produce were among the hardest hit and estimates of losses totaling in the billions. The University of Georgia Extension reported an updated damage assessment of $550 to $600 million in cotton crop loss due to Hurricane Michael. The Georgia Forestry Commission released a detailed analysis showing damage to more than two million acres of forestland, resulting in a $374 million total loss, a significant decrease from the initial estimates of $1 billion.
Georgia’s high-yielding vegetables, sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes and peas are estimated to have received a $480 million loss. Georgia pecan farmers in southwest Georgia continue to salvage what they can of a commodity that took an estimated $560 million loss that many are describing as a generational loss. Hurricane Michael will also have a lasting impact on Georgia’s poultry industry with the loss of 97 houses and more than 2 million chickens. The losses calculate to an estimated $25 million.
The House website, as of Wednesday, had no details of House the budget amendments and instead directs those interested to the House Budget Office.
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