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April 23, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
An initiative in the Massachusetts legislature that would have reduced the Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division bond allocation by $34 million was defeated thanks to the efforts of general aviation advocates. Gov. Deval Patrick signed Transportation Bond House Bill 4046 into law on April 18 with full funding for airports.
The total funding allocation for the aeronautics division was originally established at $89 million before the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed an amended version, Senate Bill 2033. AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins weighed in, expressing AOPA’s opposition to the bill.
“To invest in Massachusetts’ aviation infrastructure is to invest in the state’s economic future. As an organization of pilots and aircraft owners, we recognize the need to support the airports that serve our needs,” Collins wrote. “Airports, like highways, are an essential part of a state’s transportation infrastructure and attract jobs and businesses to a host community.”
David Dinneen, executive director of the Massachusetts Airport Management Association (MAMA), said when his organization heard the legislature was thinking about reducing the bond amount, its members and interested parties, including AOPA, went into action. “We encouraged everyone to reach out to legislators and urged them to keep the amount that was originally planned,” he said. “MassDOT officials had a plan and that money budgeted will allow them to continue to work to keep Massachusetts as one of the best aviation states in the country.”
Dinneen also praised the efforts of Collins. “When Sean was hired not even a week into the job, we invited him to our MAMA meeting. He jumped in with both feet and was ready for the commitment,” he said. “Sean is always involved and has been a great advocate for aviation in Massachusetts.”
AOPA worked with the Massachusetts aviation industry to ensure the highest amount of funds possible are allocated to the state’s system of airports. The bond allocation signed by the governor ensures that Massachusetts can maximize its use of available federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funds, while ensuring monies are allocated for necessary and important but non-AIP-eligible projects across the state’s system of 39 public-use airports.
“For travelers, pilots, and passengers, airports present a first impression of a state,” said Collins. “This bonding authorization will allow the Aeronautics Division to increase funding for airport pavement projects at all public-use general aviation airports and initiate a statewide administration building program. These are important projects that serve to boost usability of our airports as well as their impression.”
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