Bailout full of sweet deals for state

The $700 billion bailout had a little something for everyone — perhaps more people than you might have realized.

Alaskans, Samoans, researchers, filmmakers, motorsports tracks, rum makers, bicycle commuters, donors of “apparently wholesome food,” book donors, hurting coal miners: All got a little something when legislators started looking for “sweeteners” that could make the bailout a bit more palatable to recalcitrant lawmakers.

Don’t forget the makers of children’s toy arrows or the wool deal.

And then there was the taxpayer in the mirror, as The Daily Sentinel learned when looking more closely at the bailout measure signed Oct. 3.

Mesa County stands to do better than usual because the measure includes full funding of the federal payments-in-lieu of taxes program. The program is a regular whipping boy for western legislators complaining about the federal government because it hasn’t been fully funded.

It is now, under the bailout bill.

For the federal fiscal year just completed, 57 Colorado counties were to receive a total of $17.6 million, well short of the $28 million they claimed they were due, according to the office of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.

The program now is to be fully funded through 2012, meaning the state will receive about $28 million per year, Salazar’s office said.

And that’s not all.

The Secure Rural Schools Program gave 43 Colorado counties a total of $6.4 million in 2006 and 2007.

For 2008, it is to receive $18.5 million, then $16.7 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010 and $13.5 million in 2011.

It will be up to the Legislature to dole out the county shares of that money.

Some of the other sugar crystals that ended up making the bailout bill go down a bit easier:

•  Alaskans who sued for damages from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill get a break that allows them to average their punitive damages awards over three years rather than absorb a one-time federal tax hit.

•  The American Samoa economic-development credit has two more years of life for corporations operating there.

•  A tax credit for research and experimentation in the United States, used by corporate giants such as Microsoft and Boeing, got a two-year extension.

•  Filmmakers and television producers get to write off all at once the cost of their productions, an effort to keep those cameras rolling in the United States.

•  The seven-year, cost-recovery period for motorsports tracks actually keeps the current structure. The Internal Revenue Service had wanted to stretch it to 15 years, lessening the amount per year that could be written off.

•  Rum exporters in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will get to keep a rebate against excise taxes on rum.

•  A provision allows employers to offer a benefit to employees for costs associated with bicycle commuting, including purchase and repair of bicycles, improvements and storage.

•  Contributions of books to public schools can earn the donor tax benefits through Dec. 31, 2009.

•   Deductions related to the charitable donation of “apparently wholesome food”— which means it meets all quality and labeling standards but might not be readily marketable – will remain through Dec. 31, 2009.

•  The United Mine Workers of America Combined Benefit Fund, which helps pay health benefits for retired miners and their dependents who worked under collective-bargaining agreements that promised lifetime health-care benefits, will get the interest on money in the abandoned-mine reclamation fund.

•  The wooden arrow sweetener helps two companies, Cajun Archery in Logan, Utah, and Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Ore.
The provision gives them a break because the excise tax levied on their product, 43 cents per unit, amounted to one-third to one-half of their total sales price. Their arrows are generally used by youth groups. The same excise tax on more expensive arrows used by hunters and marksmen went hardly noticed on units priced from $8 to $12.

• The wool provision extends to 2015 a tariff relief on worsted-wool fabric producers in the United States that use imported fibers and yarns. It also benefits domestic tailored-clothing makers that use imported fabrics, and it continues a wool-research fund.


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