AOPA Southwest Regional Representative Jerry Hooper last week told the Texas House Transportation Committee that any proposals considered to raise fees on general aviation are premature, especially since the state's aviation system plan is outdated. Additionally, Hooper informed the committee that any state investment in airport development cannot be assured since the state lacks statewide airport land use zoning laws.
The committee was holding hearings to explore a number of statewide transportation issues including general aviation infrastructure needs and methods of increasing aviation-related tax revenues to fund those needs. The Texas Department of Transportation suggested a number of new fees that could be imposed on GA to raise funds. These included a new fuel tax, aircraft registration fees, airport licensing fees, and additional sales and use taxes on aircraft parts. Hooper suggested to the committee that it was virtually impossible to establish needs and place a cost on them until the state aviation system plan was updated. He also suggested to the committee that, without knowing the costs associated with required projects (because of an outdated system plan), revenue need levels could not be established, and therefore, no new taxes should be considered. He indicated he had spoken with the state Economic Development office, which expressed interest in marketing the benefits of local airports. The Texas legislature is in recess until the 2003 session, so no legislation is expected immediately.