Bill would boost Washington state aviation funding

February 7, 2013

The Washington state Senate has taken up an AOPA-supported bill that would boost aviation funding—without raising taxes—by ending the practice of channeling most aircraft excise-tax revenue to nonaviation spending.

Senate Bill 5430 would distribute all aircraft-excise tax revenue collected to the state aeronautics account. The measure, introduced Jan. 30, will be the subject of a public hearing Feb. 13 before the Senate Committee on Transportation. Washington state members can contact their legislators to urge support for the bill as provided below.

Under current funding rules, 90 percent of aircraft excise-tax revenue collected in Washington State goes to the state’s general fund with only the remaining 10 percent allocated to support aviation. By contrast, all the proceeds—about $5.7 million—generated biannually from the state’s 11-cents-per-gallon fuel tax funds airport improvements and other aviation purposes.

“Reallocation of the 90-percent of the excise tax currently used for non-aeronautics purposes would provide the Washington State Department of Transportation’s aviation funding an additional $581,000 in every two-year budget period,” said AOPA Northwest/Mountain Regional Manager David Ulane. “That funding is badly needed for airport maintenance and improvements.”

The increased funding would broaden access to federal airport improvement funds and partly offset a projected $600 million funding shortfall in safety and improvement programs for the state’s 136 public-use airports over the next 20 years, Ulane said.

AOPA has been joined by the National Business Aviation Association, the Washington Pilots Association, Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, and the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association in signing a letter to lawmakers urging support for the measure.

Sponsors of the bill include Sens. Steve Hobbs (D-District 44), Curtis King (R-District 14), Tracey Eide (D-District 30 and Majority floor leader), Jim Honeyford (R-District 15), Nathan Schlicher (D-District 26), and Annette Cleveland (D-District 49).

Members can urge policymakers to support the legislation by email or by mail to The Honorable Tracey Eide, Co-Chair, and The Honorable Curtis King, Co-Chair, Washington State Senate Committee on Transportation, 311 J.A. Cherberg Bldg., P.O. Box 40468, Olympia, WA 98504-0468.