NBC Bay Area

By Matt Baume

October 8, 2010

At last, California has a budget. After months of stalling, legislators have finally managed to plug all of the state's fiscal gaps -- with no help from The Gap.

A $30 million hole appeared in the final version of the budget, thanks to a tax break for Humboldt Redwood Co, a lumber company owned by the kids of Gap founder Donald Fisher.

The tax-gap appeared at some point during closed-door negotiations, and gave Humboldt Lumber a multi-million dollar break that will have to be filled by taxpayers or by a reduction in state services.

But the company might be more entitled to that money than you might initially think. They took a substantial hit in 2008 when lawmakers imposed stiffer tax rules to close that year's difficult budget. So this year's provision may simply make up for that.

It wasn't too hard for the Fishers to find a sympathetic ear in Sacramento. They can afford high-powered lobbyists, and the family has contributed millions to politicians over the last decade.

The company bought its land in 2008 when the original owners went bankrupt and have been recognized as excellent ecological stewards since then. They've adopted sustainable logging principles and preserved existing jobs. So, if any high-powered political dynasty is going to get a tax break, maybe we couldn't have asked for anyone better.

– Matt Baume


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