ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal signed an historic, $5 billion tax relief bill on Friday, despite the fact that it did not exempt jet fuel sales taxes that would have benefited Delta Air Lines, Georgia's largest employer.
In a Wednesday news conference, Deal said he would sign the bill despite the fact the Senate rules committee removed the exemption from the bill's provisions, earlier in the day.
“We were not elected to give late-night talk show hosts fodder for their monologues,” Deal said, in response to recent national headlines over criticism of Delta Air Lines from state leaders. “We are called on to listen to all voices and draft policies to benefit Georgia.”
In response to recent school shootings, Delta ended its long-standing discount program for NRA members, drawing outrage from many Republicans who are running for governor this year.
On Friday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian issued a memo to employees, explaining the airline's decision.
"Delta rescinded a one-time group travel discount for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, and asked the organization to remove our name and logo from their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," Bastian said. "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.
"Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate."
Instead, Bastian said "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."
Watch the governor's Wednesday press conference below.
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