Gov. Nathan Deal, as he prepares to begin a press conference to address the jet fuel tax credit stripped away by a Senate committee after Delta sought to cut ties with the NRA. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Text of Nathan Deal’s decision: ‘Antics’ over Delta put income tax break at risk

My Insider colleague Greg Bluestein has the straight take on Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to quickly move past a volatile explosion in the state Capitol:

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would reluctantly support a measure that stripped a lucrative tax break for Delta Air Lines but also includes broader cuts to the state’s income tax rate.

The Republican was a vocal supporter of the $50 million tax break, which would have eliminated the state’s tax on jet fuels. But Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to strip it out of the measure after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would “kill” the incentive unless Delta restored ties with a gun rights group.

But if you want to know exactly what Governor Deal said, below is the text – highlights mine:

In the world of politics, in this diverse state of more than 10.4 million people, in the halls of this historic building, there are many different and passionate voices.

We are currently in a time of heated debate about a very emotionally-charged issue, one that people feel very intensely about. I certainly would never discount those strongly-held beliefs, but we should be mindful of what they do to a debate like this and how easily one’s temper can flair into one’s words and actions.

It is amidst such an environment that we are called upon to do what is right by all Georgians. It is in such circumstances that we are tasked with making the hard decisions in service to the people of this state, not ourselves.

It is in such conditions that we must listen to all voices, all concerns, and do our best to craft policy which simultaneously lives up to our principles and positions Georgia for the bright future of which its people are worthy. 

Today, an amended version of HB 918 – which includes the 2017 and 2018 Internal Revenue Code updates – passed out of a Senate committee. When it has passed both chambers, I will sign it into law, because it is what is right for our citizens, because it will save them in upwards of $5 billion in tax savings over the next five years, and because it is far too important to the well-being of our state to forfeit amid unbecoming squabbling.

This legislation – put at risk by the types of antics that tend to plague election years – serves as one of the single-largest income tax reforms in our state’s history, and I think Georgia’s families and businesses deserve to benefit fully from these significant tax cuts. 

So as we call an end to the discord, let us refocus our attention on what is truly important in this debate. The real story is on the unprecedented $5 billion tax cut for Georgians.

The real story is what it has always been: what is in the best interests of the people of Georgia. 

But even as we find our composure and respect for one another again, we must remember that there is still more work to be done. The legislation we’re talking about today will not fix our compliance issue. 

We will still be in violation of federal statute. Therefore, I am committed to finding a pathway forward for the elimination of sales tax on jet fuel, which is non-negotiable. Finding a solution to that problem will require further discussion, so I am continuing an open dialogue with all stakeholders in the process, including Georgia’s largest private employer – Delta Air Lines. 

If we truly wish to remain the No. 1 state in which to do business, if we want to attract more companies to our communities and more jobs for our growing populace, if we want to remain a truly competitive hub for global commerce and not be overshadowed by neighboring states, then we need to address the concerns of all in a dignified manner and with a maturity that our people deserve. 

Ours is a welcoming state – the epitome of “Southern Hospitality.” We were not elected to give the late-night talk show hosts fodder for their monologues or to act with the type of immaturity that has caused so many in our society to have a cynical view of politics.

We can sometimes ardently disagree with one another, but Georgia is a state of respect where we value and appreciate those who contribute to our communities and give jobs to the fathers and mothers of our children, not just today, but in the many years to come as we attract the jobs of the future. 

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.
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