Pro-gun Georgia lawmakers punish Delta for spurning the NRA
Pro-gun Georgia lawmakers punish Delta for spurning the NRA
Delta Airlines Airplane Tail Fin
03 March, 2018, 00:34
Delta, one of the state's largest employers, would have been the primary beneficiary of the exemption.
House Bill 918, which includes the first income tax cut in state history, passed Georgia's Senate by a vote of 44-10 and its House by a vote of 135-24.
The state Senate's presiding officer, Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, set up the showdown between gun-rights supporters and one of Georgia's biggest private employers when he vowed Monday to stop any tax break that would benefit Delta.
He added: "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale".
Pro-gun Republicans in the Georgia legislature have easily approved a tax bill that strips out a sales tax exemption on jet fuel. The House may take it up as well, giving it final approval and sending it to Gov. Nathan Deal, who has promised to sign it.
Since ending its relationship with the NRA last weekend, the airline has faced backlash from some customers and lawmakers. Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA.
"Obviously the political environment does sometimes get a little testy, but in the end, it's all about the product", said Cagle, who is running this year to succeed the term-limited governor.
The airline had been under attack from gun-rights activists since Saturday, when it abruptly discontinued flight discounts to the NRA's annual convention and asked the gun-rights group to remove the information about the perk from the convention material.
"While Delta's intent was to remain neutral, some elected officials in Georgia tied our decision to a pending jet fuel tax exemption, threatening to eliminate it unless we reversed course". "Our people and our customers have a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places, and we are not taking sides", Bastian said.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle called Delta a "beloved bedrock" of Georgia's economy in an opinion piece published Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate", he continued. Michael Williams, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, told "Fox & Friends" on Friday.
Deal said he would find "a pathway forward for the elimination of sales tax on jet fuel, which is non-negotiable". But he put some of the blame on the airline, noting the jet fuel exemption wasn't controversial before Delta crossed the NRA.
"I hope they are better at flying planes than timing PR announcements", Ralston said.
The Delta provision barely came up Thursday in either legislative chamber during debate on the underlying tax bill, designed in part to give back to Georgia taxpayers $5.2 billion in extra state revenue expected over the next five years because of the recent federal tax overhaul.
Delta released an internal memo Friday that CEO Ed Bastian sent employees after Georgia lawmakers voted to deny the Atlanta-based airline a tax break as punishment for crossing the NRA. He said that while he supported portions of the bill, he thought the state should look to funding programs such as education. "I don't think so".
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