N.Y. Senate ends standoff, extends GA tax break

July 13, 2009

After nearly five weeks of chaos in the struggle for political control, the New York State Senate has restored order and returned to the business of lawmaking. Among the first orders of business: passing a bill to extend the state’s current sales-tax exemption on general aviation aircraft maintenance.

The Senate voted July 9 to make permanent the sales- and use-tax exemption on maintenance and repair of aircraft, which had been set to expire Dec. 1. The fate of the bill, along with many other important measures, had been uncertain during a political standoff that halted legislative activity for a month while Democrats and Republicans argued over who had control of the chamber.

“The original enactment of this sales-tax exemption in 2004 led to an increase in economic activity and employment in the aviation sector and has allowed New York to stay competitive with neighboring states,” said AOPA Northeast Regional Representative Craig Dotlo. “Extending it will allow GA to continue to grow as a vital sector of the economy in New York and benefit the aircraft owners who depend on convenient access to these services.”

In the year after the exemption was put in place, the state saw an increase in taxable income from businesses involved in aviation maintenance and repair and a three-percent jump in employment in the sector.

Assemblyman Robin Schimminger introduced the bill to retain the benefits of aircraft-related businesses, and AOPA has been working with the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA) and key lawmakers to convey the importance of the legislation. AOPA also called on members in the state to contact their state representatives to express support for the bill. The Assembly passed the legislation June 16.

“Airports are one of the economic engines that fuel growth in the communities that they serve,” the bill memo reads. It goes on to note that more than 300,000 New York residents owe their jobs directly or indirectly to airports. “In addition to commercial service airports, hundreds of other general aviation airports are located throughout the state. These airports provide services such as charter flights for businesses and executives, quick access for medical emergencies and law enforcement needs, flight training, and tourism [and] recreational flying.”

The Senate conflict originated when two Democratic state senators aligned with Republicans in their effort to seize control of the Senate. When one of the senators returned to the Democratic side, leaving the Senate split evenly, 31 to 31, both sides claimed control of the chamber. The other senator, Pedro Espada Jr., returned to the Democratic fold July 9 and assumed the title of majority leader. The 32-30 majority allowed the Democrats to re-establish control and resume consideration of the bills that had been neglected during the power struggle.

The Senate passed the GA maintenance tax exemption after midnight in their first session back considering bills after the stalemate. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.