A Georgia Senate committee voted to strike a tax break benefitting Delta Airlines from a tax overhaul bill after the company ended a discount program for NRA members. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A Georgia Senate committee voted to strike part of a bill including a tax break that would benefit Delta Airlines after the company cut ties with the National Rifle Association.
Georgia's Senate Rules Committee voted to remove the $50 million tax break, which would have eliminated the state's tax on jet fuels, from the comprehensive tax overhaul, which included the first income tax cut in state history.
The governor's floor leader Sen. P.K. Martin said the decision was made to avoid sacrificing the tax cuts in exchange for the jet fuel tax break, which is unpopular with Republicans.
"This is a way to ensure that the tax cuts are passed and that the taxpayers of Georgia are rewarded," Martin said.
Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would strike down any legislation benefitting Delta after it decided to cut a discount program for NRA members.
"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with NRA," Cagle said. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."
Gov. Nathan Deal, also a Republican, said he was disappointed by the political "antics" surrounding the bill but would reluctantly sign it as he couldn't veto a measure that also amounted to a sweeping tax cut for residents.
"When it has passed both chambers, I will sign it into law because it is what is right for our citizens," Deal said.
Deal also expressed concern that refusing to pass the tax cut could make it more difficult for Delta to compete with other cities with air hubs that don't charge the tax.
He said he remains "committed to finding a pathway forward" for the jet fuel tax break because it is out of compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations and is continuing an open dialogue with Delta and state legislative leaders.