Ohio budget battle slashes airport funding

June 18, 2009

Contact your governor

AOPA needs your help. Contact Gov. Ted Strickland and tell him to reinstate airport funding. Your voice will make a difference!

In a desperate attempt to cut costs in the face of an estimated $3.2 billion budget deficit, the Ohio Senate recently dealt general aviation a potentially devastating blow:, cutting all state airport funding for the next two years—a total of $2.4 million. The House and Senate are battling to present Gov. Ted Strickland with a balanced budget proposal by the end of the month.

“Every single Ohio member needs to step up and tell Governor Strickland how important airport funding is to the state,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “At this crucial time, with the budget in limbo, your voice could be the tipping point that convinces state officials to reinstate airport funding.”

AOPA is working with the Ohio Aviation Association and has met with members of the state House and Senate to educate them on the value of GA airports and the need to continue the airport grant program, which provides funding for maintaining the runways and taxiways and removing obstructions.

AOPA President Craig Fuller on June 15 wrote to Strickland, who will have the final say on the budget, explaining the plight of many of the state’s airports: “Currently, over one-third of Ohio’s170 airports suffer from deficient pavement conditions on runways and taxiways—and this number will undoubtedly grow without sufficient infrastructure investment.”

Cutting the airport grant program would have dire consequences not only on the state’s $10 billion aviation industry but also to the health of the entire state economy—the very thing the state officials are trying to protect. Investing in airports, rather than slashing funding, is the key to economic growth, Fuller pointed out.

“General aviation affects every county, city, and district in the state—generating thousands of jobs throughout Ohio,” he wrote. Ohio receives $20 million in revenue annually from taxes on aviation-related activities.

Ohio isn’t the only state facing budget shortfalls. Neighboring state Pennsylvania is experiencing a $3 billion deficit. But Gov. Ed Rendell is taking a different approach to boost his state’s economy by specifically investing in airports.

“AOPA will continue to reach out to state officials, but it’s going to take all of our 13,700 Ohio members to prevent the funding program from being raided,” said Pecoraro. “Almost every significant GA victory has involved local pilots taking a stand. Now is your chance.”