Deal signs $270 million hurricane relief spending plan for South Georgia
ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Governor Nathan Deal’s special session came to an end on Saturday with a passed multi-million dollar spending plan for the Hurricane Michael relief effort.
It marked the end of a packed five day-long special session called to help South Georgia residents deal with the impact of the powerful storm.
Lawmakers yelled out “sine die” to signify the final day of the special session coming to a close. Governor Nathan Deal had a message for them.
“I do appreciate your willingness to reassemble and deal with this issue in a meaningful way,” Deal said.
The Senate passed and he signed a hefty $270 million emergency aid package for South Georgia residents.
“Obviously we cannot pay for all the losses nor should we be expected to pay for all the losses at the state level, but we do think we can afford to do this,” Deal explained.
The money will go toward state agencies and local governments struggling with little resources and give tax credits for Georgia’s heavily impacted timber industry.
“The state has agreed to help local governments that have been impacted by covering their share of the expenses which is approximately $1.98 million for just the debris removal and that I think is the right thing to do,” Deal said.
According to the state, South Georgia took a $2.5 billion hit as a result of Hurricane Michael.
“You can anchor yourself in the fact that when it says $2.5 billion in commodity loss that’s what it is,” said Secretary of Agriculture Gary black.
The money will only begin to cover a fraction of those losses but it’s a start to progress.
The amended budget passed in the House 162 to 1 and unanimously in the State Senate.
Legislators will reconvene again in January for the start of the regular session.
During the legislative session lawmakers also passed a $40 million jet fuel tax cut for Delta Airlines.
This was after earlier this year, the jet fuel tax bill died during the regular session in the State Senate.
Passing it means Delta will no longer be required to pay the state a 4% sales tax on use of jet fuel through 2019.
The tax cut failed in the Senate not long after Delta Airlines announced that it would no longer provide a discount to National Rifle Association members.