The Arizona House on Tuesday passed a bill that expands a $5 million sales tax credit passed last year to include international operations centers that make a capital investment of $1.25 billion. The bill describes Apple’s planned Mesa, AZ data center exactly.
The House swiftly debated the bill and passed it 57-3 after amending it to match the Senate version. That will allow a speedy trip to the governor’s desk when the Senate acts. Two Republicans and one Democrat voted against the bill.
In order to qualify go the sales tax credit, Apple will need to invest at least $100 million in new renewable energy facilities, and use some portion of that energy to power its new data center.
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, who sponsored the bill, says it helps Arizona get its foot in the door with the Cupertino firm, and could lead to other projects with the company in the future.
“We think we have a real shot at being a secondary place for Cupertino,” he said.
The bill also exempts the new facility from paying sales tax on electricity or natural gas, which would result in a $1.3 million dollar loss of revenue for the state’s general fund in 2016.
While supporters lauded the bill as an economic incentive that would attract more business to the state, opponents claimed the bill was specialty legislation.
“I just don’t believe in picking winners and losers,” said Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, echoing a refrain often heard from Republicans opposed to business incentives. “I just don’t think it’s a good economic tool.”
The Mesa facility was originally purchased by Apple for use by GT Advanced Technologies, which planned to make sapphire glass for use in Apple products. However, GT went bankrupt in 2014.
Apple then pledged to find a new use for the plant, and committed to building and financing 70 megawatts of solar power generation, enough to power over 14,500 homes.
Apple’s planned data center – on which construction will begin next year – will control the company’s global networks, and will employ around 150 permanent workers, while running on 100% renewable energy.