This past Wednesday, the Georgia state House passed an amendment that would remove a multimillion-dollar tax break from Delta Air Lines after the company spoke out against the state’s new election laws.
Last week, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that overhauled the state’s election procedures. The overhaul was designed to address issues surrounding the 2020 election and increase security. Initially, Delta showed support for key measures of the bill after it was signed, but after calls for boycotts from left-wing publications, Delta caved and walked back its stance.
After backtracking, Delta CEO Ed Bastian stated that the new election law “does not match Delta’s values.” In response to Delta’s sudden change of heart, Republicans in the state House fought back by voting to strip Delta of a jet fuel tax break worth well over $35 million annually, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“They like our public policy when we’re doing things that benefit them. You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand. You got to keep that in mind sometimes.”
–House Speaker David Ralston
With lawmakers not wanting to escalate the fight or punish Delta while it is still recovering business hits taken during the pandemic, the measure stalled upon reaching the Senate floor for vote. The resistance frustrated the GOP lawmakers according to the AJC.
Delta Airlines is one of the largest private employers in Georgia, but it has lost its tax breaks several times in the past picking fights with the GOP legislature. Back in 2015, the airline lost the tax break when it’s then CEO called legislators “chicken” for not going through with a raise in taxes for infrastructure spending and improvements. This happened once again in 2018 due to Delta removing the NRA discounts in response to mass shootings.
Immediately after the law was signed, Delta released a statement in which it expressed support for the legislation but said that more work needed to be done.
“Over the past several weeks, Delta engaged extensively with state elected officials in both parties to express our strong view that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process, with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls. The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason,” Delta released in a memo. “Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”
However, days later, CEO Ed Bastian issued another statement criticizing Georgia over the Voting Reforms. In the statement, he called the final bill “unacceptable” and saying it “does not match Delta’s Values.”