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- Georgia lawmakers passed a tax reform bill on Thursday that did not include a massive tax exemption for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines.
- Thr bill originally contained a provision that would exempt airlines from paying state tax on jet fuel, which would have saved Delta up to $40 million.
- After the airline dropped a partnership with the National Rifle Association over the weekend, Republicans removed the exemption from the larger bill.
Georgia lawmakers officially blocked a massive tax break for Delta Air Lines on Thursday, days after igniting a battle over the airline’s relationship with the National Rifle Association.
The Georgia Senate passed a large tax reform bill on Thursday, one day after removing an exemption on jet fuel that would have been a boon for the Atlanta-based airline.
The original version of the bill exempted airlines from state sales tax when re-fueling at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. The tax break would have totaled $50 million for all airlines, of which $40 million would have gone to Delta.
But, after Delta ended a partnership with the NRA on Saturday, Republican lawmakers cut the exemption from the broader bill.
“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA,” Casey Cagle, the state’s lieutenant governor and GOP frontrunner for governor in 2018, tweeted Monday.
Delta attempted to assuage the political backlash, stating the decision to end the relationship with the NRA was designed to stay above the fray in the recent fight over gun control following the mass shooting at a high school in Florida. Republican lawmakers in Georgia didn’t accept the explanation.
Democrats in Georgia sided with Delta in the battle and said the decision to end the exemption shows the GOP cares more about playing to their base than helping the state’s economy.
“We’re the leaders of this state and we need to be coming together for solutions, not bullying corporations who are trying to do the right thing,” State Sen. Nikema Williams, a Democrat, told reporters Thursday.
“I stand with @Delta,” tweeted Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who represents parts of Atlanta in the US House of Representatives.
Delta is the largest private employer in Georgia, with roughly 33,000 workers in the state.