Kemp glad nothing happened on state takeover of Atlanta airport
By Maria Saporta
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp told the Rotary Club of Atlanta Monday that sometimes you can be thankful that legislation never made it out of the Georgia legislature.
In this case, he was referring to bills that would have either involved a state takeover of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport or would have created a legislative oversight committee to review the airport’s operations.
“That was one of the things that never really got worked out,” Kemp said in response to a question posed by Rotarian Cody Laird Jr. “Sometimes you can be thankful as Georgians that nothing actually happened. That is a very important issue, not only for this city, but for this state. And we have to be very cautious about it.”
Kemp said he stayed “fairly quiet” during the airport debate because he understood the reasons for Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) desire to create a state-run authority to run the city-of-Atlanta owned airport. And he understood the reservations that others had.
A mega-bill, that would have created an Atlanta airport oversight committee, a rural-transit agency and a tax cut of jet fuels that would benefit Delta Air Lines and the other airlines, did not get worked out before the end of the session on April 2.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has spoken strongly against a state takeover of the airport as well as a state legislative oversight committee.
“Where we are today gives the mayor a great opportunity to continue to expand confidence to the people in this city, and to the lawmakers, about some of the things that have gone on in the airport in the past,” Kemp said. “I feel certain that she will take advantage of the opportunity, and we will reassess where we are next year.”
Kemp was referring to a federal investigation of corruption at the City of Atlanta under the administration of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The Federal Aviation Administration also is investigating a possible misuse of airport funds.
Then Kemp alluded to the close working relationship the City of Atlanta had with former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
“I remain committed to working with the mayor and the legislature on issues like this,” he said.
Earlier during his talk, Kemp said he remains committed to Georgia keeping its stature as the nation’s No. 1 state for business, according to Site Selection Magazine.
“I have focused a lot on economic development in rural Georgia,” Kemp said. “That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be focused on metro Atlanta and the other urban areas.”
He then praised state’s top economic development leaders.
“I’m so excited about our team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development,” Kemp said. “We have such a good business environment in our state.”
Kemp then specifically mentioned Commissioner Pat Wilson and Bert Brantley, chief operating officer of the department. He also praised the state’s economic development incentives for industry, including the state’s robust film industry. Kemp added that he was supportive of the film tax credit as it currently stands.
“We are in the sweet spot,” Kemp said, “I’m very supportive of it.”
The governor, however, did not address a possible backlash from film companies moving out of Georgia because of the passage of the “heart-beat bill” that would outlaw abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That bill is expected to be signed by the governor.