Republican lawmakers in Georgia made good on a threat to eliminate a proposed tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, after the carrier declined to reverse a decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.
Earlier this week, Delta — the state’s largest private employer, with 33,000 workers statewide — was among numerous companies to announce that it would end discounts for NRA members in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
Immediately afterward, Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican and staunch NRA ally, said he would “kill” legislation to give the airline a sales tax exemption on jet fuel. The proposal, estimated to be worth at least $38 million to Delta and other airlines, had until then been largely uncontroversial.
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
— Casey Cagle (@CaseyCagle) February 26, 2018
Ignoring warnings that taking on Delta could harm the state’s pro-business image, the GOP-controlled House, which had earlier approved a larger tax bill containing the exemption, voted 135-24 on Thursday for a new version stripped of the provision. Meanwhile, some experts have raised First Amendment concerns over the legislature’s punitive move.
House Speaker David Ralston, a Republican, made it clear that there was a direct link between the vote and the NRA controversy: “I hope they are better at flying airplanes than timing PR announcements,” he said.
The Senate passed the tax cut bill 44-10.