Arizona governor's budget would raid aviation fund

June 11, 2009

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed a budget that would divert 60 percent of revenues from the state aviation fund for nonaviation purposes.

Facing a serious budget shortfall, the state legislature approved a budget plan that would transfer a modest portion of the state aviation fund to cover budget deficits in other areas. But Brewer rejected it, proposing a competing budget that siphons $14.6 million from the fund.

Over the last two years, lawmakers diverted large sums from the state aviation fund to pay for other budget items, foregoing infrastructure improvements such as taxiway and runway repaving and obstruction removal. This year, the governor’s budget again draws from the aviation fund for nonaviation uses—seven times more than from any other transportation fund.

The budget proposal “places a disproportionate burden on the already underfunded aviation system—threatening the safety and integrity of Arizona’s airport network,” AOPA President Craig Fuller wrote in a letter to the governor. “With 78 public-use airports scattered throughout the state, aviation is an integral part of the transportation system and the economy—affecting every city, town, and district in Arizona. …General aviation alone contributes more than $2.76 billion to the state economy on an annual basis.”

The governor and legislators have until the end of the month to break the deadlock. AOPA has urged pilots to contact the governor to help prevent Arizona from neglecting its airports and aviation safety.