- Georgia’s lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, said he would not support a bill that would give Delta a massive tax break unless the airline reversed its decision on Saturday to end its partnership with the National Rifle Association.
- Delta had faced pressure from gun-control advocates following the mass shooting earlier this month in Parkland, Florida.
- The bill proposes exempting jet-fuel purchases from Georgia’s sales tax and could save Delta about $US40 million.
Georgia’s lieutenant governor on Monday attacked Delta Air Lines for dropping a partnership with the National Rifle Association.
Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, ended a discount program for NRA members on Saturday after public backlash following the shooting earlier this month at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
“Delta is reaching out to the National Rifle Association to let it know we will be ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program,” Delta said in a statement. “We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website.”
In response, Casey Cagle, who is running for governor as a Republican this year, tweeted on Monday that he would block any legislation that includes tax benefits for Delta until the airline renewed the partnership.
“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.”
The Georgia legislature is considering a broader tax bill that includes a provision to exempt Delta’s purchases of jet fuel from the state’s sales tax, a move that could save the airline about $US40 million. The exemption was first offered in 2005, when the airline was struggling, and repealed in 2015.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cagle’s opposition effectively prevents the tax break from becoming law, as several other Georgia GOP lawmakers have also suggested they will not support it until Delta reverses its decision. The state’s Senate blocked the provision on Monday.
Delta attempted to clarify over the weekend that the decision was nonpartisan, painting it as a way to stay out of the debate over guns in the US.
“Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings,” Delta’s statement said. “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”
The airline, which employed more than 33,000 people in Georgia in 2015, is one of the largest employers in the state.
A representative for Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.