On January 27, 1999, the state legislature introduced House Bill 2199 (HB 2199). HB 2199 would increase state excise taxes on avgas and jet fuel and specifically dedicate the increase in revenue ($1.3 million per year) to airport pavement maintenance and preservation for publicly owned airports in Oregon. The proposal would take the current state tax on avgas from 3 cents to 6 cents per gallon in FY 2000, and to 9 cents in FY 2001. The jet fuel tax would increase one time from 1/2 cent to 1 cent per gallon in FY 2000.
Of those states collecting avgas fuel taxes, Oregon is currently forty-fourth compared to these other states. With the proposed increase, Oregon will move up to nineteenth, with 28 states being lower. On jet fuel, Oregon is forty-fourth compared to other states collecting these taxes. With the 1/2-cent increase, Oregon will remain forty-fourth.
The funds would be distributed according to an index system (to be created) that will prioritize variables such as critical airport needs, pavement condition, and the importance of the airport in the state aviation system while trying to fund projects that do not qualify for federal assistance. Currently, it is not known how these funds will be distributed. The indexing system could divide the monies by some unknown formula between general aviation airports and commercial service (airline) airports to include the Port of Portland. There are no existing written guarantees as to the use of these funds. The airlines are not opposing this bill, nor are they outwardly supporting it. Since airlines almost always oppose fuel taxes, has a special deal been cut with the airlines and the Port of Portland?
Anytime there is a tax increase of this magnitude, AOPA is concerned for its members. We realize you already suffer high costs when it comes to ownership or rental of general aviation aircraft. Therefore, please review the facts and make your voice heard in Salem immediately.
During the week of February 1, 1999, your association conducted a statistically valid poll of Oregon members to determine the levels of support or opposition on this issue. While 75.3 percent of the members polled felt that dedicated state airport funding for airport improvements was a good idea, only 9 percent felt that runways at Oregon’s public-use airports are in need of repair. Furthermore, 55 percent of the members polled opposed this fuel tax increase. However, AOPA has been advised the Oregon pilots support this fuel tax increase, as does the Port of Portland. That is why you need to voice your opinion on this matter, letting your legislators in Salem know directly how YOU feel on this complex issue. Do you support raising fuel taxes, or do you oppose this level of increase? Make your voice heard NOW!
Contact your state representative and Representatives Montgomery and Strobeck by phone, letter, fax, or e-mail and provide them with your views on House Bill 2199. If you write or fax your views on this issue, please forward a copy to AOPA State Legislative Affairs, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD 21791 .
Representative Ken Strobeck, Chairman
Representative Bob Montgomery, Chairman
February 12, 1999