Political Insider

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An NFL-inspired effort to spike a Super Bowl tax break in Georgia

Atlanta's own Cam Newton unwittingly stars in a new ad by a fiscal conservative group seeking to spike a tax break on Super Bowl tickets speeding through the Georgia Legislature.

Americans for Prosperity Georgia is trying to rally opposition to House Bill 951, which would waive the sales tax on tickets to the Super Bowl at a cost of roughly $10 million in revenue to the state and city of Atlanta. The measure has already passed the House and cleared a key Senate panel last week.

The measure is backed by Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, as well as the Metro Atlanta Chamber. The supporters say such tax breaks are the price of admission for landing a Super Bowl - the city is pursuing the mega-event for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019 or 2020 - and that the payoff is worth the $400 million or more in economic benefits from spending on hotels, meals and other services.

But fiscal conservative groups paint it as a giveaway to politically-connected businesses. Americans for Prosperity Georgia, which backed the above digital ad with a five-figure buy, has also started an outreach campaign aimed at swaying vulnerable Republican incumbents.

"Although we take our football seriously, many Georgians consider government handouts the classic fumble," said Michael Harden, the group's state director. "Although some would like to consider this the coin toss to begin the excitement, I'm afraid they may be using a two-headed nickel and taxpayers will not be the receiving team."

The ad features footage from a sullen Newton at an awkward press conference after the Panthers lost the Super Bowl last month to the Denver Broncos.

"Hey Cam! Does it make sense for Georgia to waive $10 million in taxes for the NFL?" asks an off-screen voice.

Link: Read our initial story about the debate here.

Link: Here's the recap of the last vote on the ticket sales tax break



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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.