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Governor Deal discusses tax reform legislation

Gov. Nathan Deal at press conference Feb. 28, 2018, to address the jet fuel tax cut issue after Senate Rules Committee stripped Delt tax cut from legislatiion

By Elaine Owen, Editor ~~

“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 (Feb. 28) 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.”
“Disagreement on key issues of our time should not prevent Georgians from keeping more of their hard earned dollars, should not forfeit our state economic development opportunities, and should not stand in the way of providing the type of tax relief that we as Republicans believe in for all citizens and businesses, both big and small.”
“It is with that renewed determination to find a path forward for the elimination of sales tax on jet fuel and a true fix to our compliance issue that I will sign HB 918 into law in the near future, securing upwards of $5 billion in tax savings for our people over the next five years.”
Without mentioning the words “Delta Airlines” one time, Georgia’s governor criticized the “unbecoming squabble” after fellow Republicans vowed to punish Delta Air Lines for breaking business ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA). The controversy has pitted gun-rights supporters at the state Capitol against one of Georgia’s largest employers.
Delta employs 33,000 workers statewide in Georgia, and its busy Atlanta hub has made Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport the busiest in the world.
Airlines would have owed the state an estimated $38 million less annually under the proposal removed from the tax-cut package by the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday. Prior to the NRA controversy, the bill had easily passed the House last week with the jet fuel exemption included. If the amended measure passes the Senate and is sent to a conference committee, the jet fuel proposal could still be added back.
Democrats, who control roughly one-third of the votes in both the Georgia House and Senate, say picking a fight with the airline is directly at odds with the state’s business-friendly policies that legislators so regularly tout.
“If we lose corporations and jobs because of political pandering, that’s problematic,” said state Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat.
More than a dozen companies, including Metlife, Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Best Western, Wyndham and United Airlines, have ended NRA partnerships since the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Police say the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people with an AR-15 assault-style rifle.