Breaking News: Georgia Governor Signs Bill Into Law with Jet Fuel Tax Break Removed

Nathan Deal — who is the current governor of the state of Georgia — signed a $5 billion tax relief bill within the past hour on Friday, March 2, 2018 even after the removal of the portion of the bill which would have eliminated the sales and use taxes levied on jet fuel for all airlines which purchase fuel in the state of Georgia.

Breaking News: Georgia Governor Signs Bill Into Law with Jet Fuel Tax Break Removed

Delta Air Lines stood to be the biggest beneficiary to the tune of tens of millions of dollars; but Casey Cagle — who is the current lieutenant governor of Georgia — threatened to “kill any tax legislation that benefits  unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with . Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

The Senate Rules Committee of the state of Georgia then voted to remove the jet fuel tax break slated for Delta Air Lines and other airlines out of a comprehensive tax overhaul on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Currently, airlines are taxed on jet fuel in the forms of sales and use taxes for both the state of Georgia and Clayton County — in which the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area resides — pursuant to the County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the Sales Tax for Educational Purposes, the Special District Transportation Sales and Use Tax, and the Special District Mass Transportation Sales and Use Tax. If airlines were exempt from paying those taxes, Clayton County was expected to lose a significant amount of revenue; and on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, administrators of the school system took students on a trip to the world headquarters of Delta Air Lines to protest.

Casey Cagle is the current frontrunner for the election of governor in the state of Georgia later this year; and although he has his supporters, the statement has backfired with significant backlash by voters to call for an ethics investigation — and even vote him out of office.

Delta Air Lines Sky Club B Concourse opening

Edward Bastian. Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Meanwhile, the following statement was issued moments ago from Edward Bastian — who is the current chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines — to all employees of the airline:

This week, you have likely seen Delta in coverage of the national debate over gun control and security in U.S. schools.  I want to take the opportunity to update you on how we got here and where we stand.

On Saturday, Delta rescinded a one-time group travel discount for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, and asked the organization to remove our name and logo from their website. This decision followed the NRA’s controversial statements after the recent school shootings in Florida. Our discounted travel benefit for NRA members could be seen as Delta implicitly endorsing the NRA. That is not the case.

I have heard from many of you over the last few days. 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. Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate.

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 decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale. We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.

None of this changes the fact that our home is Atlanta and we are proud and honored to locate our headquarters here. And we are supporters of the 2nd Amendment, just as we embrace the entire Constitution of the United States.

I have tremendous respect and admiration for Governor Nathan Deal, and thank him for the work he has done on the jet fuel tax exemption. He is a great friend to Delta. I know this action by the state legislature troubled him as it does all of us.

I know it is not comfortable to be caught in a highly emotional debate, and many of you have received questions from customers. We are at our best when we bring our customers and our world closer together. Hopefully, our decisions this week will serve this ultimate cause.

I want to thank every one of you for your professionalism and continued focus on taking care of our customers every day.

“I think Delta knows better than that … Personally, I’ve said to the CEO – we didn’t start this” is what Deal reportedly said to Bastian, according to this report from WAGA-TV Fox 5 News in Atlanta. Deal is also reported to have said that “eliminating the jet fuel tax by a different means will happen and it is non-negotiable” and that “We value our airline industry in this state. we do not want to find ourselves in a non-competitive environment where airlines would be more tempted to fly out of other hubs rather than our own here at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.”


In this article which I wrote two days ago, I mentioned that “I highly doubt that Delta Air Lines would move its headquarters and hub from Atlanta to somewhere else should it still be required to continue paying the sales and use taxes levied on jet fuel if the legislation does not pass.” I still believe this to be the case — especially after reading the aforementioned statement by Edward Bastian…

…but that is not stopping official representatives of other states from continuing to woo the airline to move its headquarters to their jurisdictions.

All photographs ©2014 and ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Breaking News: Georgia Governor Signs Bill Into Law with Jet Fuel Tax Break Removed”

  1. Tom says:

    DL might not move out, but this type of politicking could be a serious blow to ATL’s hope of landing the AMZ HQ

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am not so sure about that, Tom, as Nathan Deal apparently is trying to implement some damage control by stating that he will find another way to give Delta Air Lines a tax break.

      1. Levy Flight says:

        It is still the politician playing silly buggers on behalf of the NRA. I suspect, Amazon is not going to want to be in that environment no matter what is going on in the back room.

      2. Brian L. says:

        I don’t see how he’ll be able to do that if the legislature won’t go along. He can’t unilaterally change taxes on his own. This would be a challenge even if it weren’t an election year in Georgia.

  2. JamesP says:

    And, yet, another school shooting happened today in Michigan.

    1. Mike L says:

      And how does that have anything to do with the NRA? Do you even know what they do? They are the leading provider of gun safety courses in the country. If you’re just going to repeat biased talking points about them and blame them for shootings (including the Florida shooting, which was an utter failure on law enforcement’s part), then you might want to actually put some thought behind it. Personally, I don’t have a feeling one way or another on abortion, but I would never say I’m going to blame Planned Parenthood – as they are just an advocacy group. Wouldn’t hurt to educate yourself a little on what they actually do before you just blame every gun-related incident in the country on them… that’s all I’m saying.

      1. rick b says:

        They’re a leading impediment to any meaningful legislation that would help curb gun violence. Nobody blames them directly for the violence itself. If you’re just going to repeat biased talking points from conservative politicians, you may want to put some thought behind it.

  3. rick b says:

    What’s the fuss about, those taxes will just get passed on as higher ticket prices. It’s not like Georgia residents have much of a choice of airline.

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